CHICAGO (AP) Phil Humber tipped his cap to the crowd as he walked off the mound to a standing ovation Tuesday night.
It was a familiar feeling, but not one he had experienced in a long time.
Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin homered, and Humber held Seattle’s offense in check as the Chicago White Sox beat the Mariners and Felix Hernandez 5-1.
“The only thing that comes close to was my first start in the big leagues at Shea Stadium,” the former New York Mets first-round pick said. “After the first inning, they stood up and got loud and everything. It’s always nice to hear the fans behind you and I definitely appreciate their support.”
Humber (5-3) matched his career high with 7 2-3 innings pitched, the third time he has done it this season. He allowed one run on five hits, struck out five and walked three. Humber lowered his ERA to 2.87 and has won his last three decisions. He hasn’t lost since April 30 and has gone at least seven innings in eight of his last nine starts.
“The White Sox gave him an opportunity to get a shot to make the ballclub and he did it,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I’m very happy about this kid. It’s a very nice surprise for the White Sox.”
Humber credits his newfound success to the ability to throw more than just his curveball for strikes.
“I’ve always had a good breaking ball, but in years past I’ve had to lean on it too much. So now I have three other pitches that I can throw at any time in the count,” Humber said. “I came into this year and I wanted to pitch like I didn’t have anything to lose. So far, I’ve been able to maintain that attitude, that aggressive attitude to attack the strike zone.”
The White Sox have won a club-record 10 straight home games against Seattle, and 14 of their last 15.
Konerko blasted the first pitch he saw from Hernandez 383 feet over the left-field bullpen to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in the second inning. It was his 14th of the year and second in as many days since missing a pair of games due to minor wrist surgery.
“It’s probably going to be until the weekend before I don’t feel anything,” Konerko said. “But it definitely doesn’t stop me at the plate.”
Konerko has homered in four of his last six games and has driven in a run in eight straight. The home run also marked Konerko’s 1,000th career run scored. He has nine homers in his last 16 games against Seattle.
Hernandez (6-5) gave up five runs on eight hits in 6 2-3 innings, including four runs in the third.
Gordon Beckham led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on Brent Morel’s single. He was cut down at the plate on Juan Pierre’s grounder to first, but 44-year-old Omar Vizquel ripped a two-RBI triple into the right-field corner.
“We signed Omar right away for a reason,” Guillen said. “Since last year, we know what he can bring to the ballclub. We know how he prepares for games.”
Quentin followed with his 15th homer of the year, a 334-foot shot off the bottom of the left-field foul pole. Quentin also hit a solo shot off of Hernandez in a 3-2 loss at Seattle on May 6.
It was Hernandez’s shortest outing since May 11 at Baltimore and his first loss since May 17 against Minnesota. He hadn’t been charged with more than four earned runs since April 11, when he allowed seven runs against Toronto.
Seattle, which came in tied for the fewest runs scored in the American League, threatened several times early but was unable to piece together a rally.
The Mariners stranded seven runners on base and went hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position. They had won their last six series before dropping the first two games to Chicago.
Miguel Olivo got the Mariners on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but that also sparked a string of 10 consecutive batters retired by Humber.
“Him and A.J. (Pierzynski) worked well back there together,” said Seattle’s Adam Kennedy, who was 0 for 3 with a walk. “Different speeds on his fastball, four decent pitches…he threw the ball well.”
Carlos Peguero had two hits in the No. 9 hole, playing instead of rookie Greg Halman, who had six hits in his first seven at-bats to start his big league career.
Chris Sale recorded the last four outs for Chicago, which has won six of its last eight.
Morel has hit safely in eight of his last nine games and is 23 for 64 since May 7.
Notes: Konerko’s homer was the 379th of his career, moving into a tie for 61st all-time with Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez. … White Sox CF Alex Rios was left out of the starting lineup for the third straight game. Rios is hitting .199 on the season and Guillen said he will be in the lineup Wednesday. He pinch-ran in the seventh inning and stayed in the game to play center field. … DH Adam Dunn was given the day off Tuesday to clear his head, like Rios. Dunn, who is hitting just .176, will sit at least one more day, Guillen said. … RHP Jake Peavy (right groin) said he is likely headed to the 15-day disabled list because treatment isn’t working. The White Sox had yet to make the move official. … Seattle OF Ichiro Suzuki was hitless in four at-bats and has just three hits in his last 27 plate appearances.
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