White Sox 4, Mariners 3
SEATTLE (AP) _ With the game on the line, the Seattle Mariners gambled on Chris Snopek rather than face slugger Albert Belle, and Snopek beat the odds this time.
After Belle was intentionally walked, Snopek hit a two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning, rallying the Chicago White Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Mariners on Thursday night.
``It’s difficult when they walk Albert and all the burden’s on you, but I just tried to stay focused on keeping the rally alive,″ Snopek said.
Ken Griffey Jr. hit his major league-leading 18th home run, helping Seattle take a 3-2 lead.
But Norm Charlton (2-2) relieved starter Jeff Fassero to begin the ninth, and Chicago came back.
Ray Durham led off with a single, and Mike Cameron walked. After Frank Thomas struck out, the White Sox tried a double steal with Belle batting, and Durham was thrown out at third.
With first base open, the Mariners intentionally walked Belle. But Snopek spoiled the strategy with a drive high off the wall in right field that scored both runners.
``The ball Snopek hit looked like it was going foul, but it hugged the line and stayed fair,″ Seattle manager Lou Piniella said.
``He hit a good pitch,″ Charlton said. ``It’s not like it was up in the zone.″
Bill Simas (1-0) got two outs and was the winner. Roberto Hernandez pitched the ninth for his seventh save as the White Sox broke a three-game losing streak.
Griffey, who set a major league record with 13 home runs in April, has homered three times in his past four games.
Fassero gave up eight hits and two runs, one of them unearned. He struck out five and walked three.
``Fassero’s one of the best left-handers I’ve ever faced,″ Snopek said. ``Staying close and having a chance to win at the end was a real challenge.″
Doug Drabek gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, giving up the go-ahead run in the sixth on a single by Jay Buhner.
Griffey hit a two-run homer in the first inning in his first career at-bat against Drabek.
``You can’t afford to make any mistakes with Griffey,″ Drabek said.
Chicago scored an unearned run in the fourth when Snopek reached on an error by shortstop Alex Rodriguez, took third on Norberto Martin’s single and scored on Darren Lewis’ grounder.
Belle’s RBI single tied the score in the Chicago fifth.
Edgar Martinez doubled with one out in the sixth and scored on Buhner’s single.
Notes: Griffey homered in back-to-back games for fifth time this season. ... Fassero is giving up an average of just .31 home runs per nine innings pitched, the best ratio of any starter in the American League. ... The White Sox had 10 hits Thursday and have reached double figures in hits in 10 of their last 12 games. ... Drabek pitched against Seattle for the first time since 1986, when he played for the New York Yankees.