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Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski downplay spat after White Sox’ win

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Updated: September 24, 2011 12:20AM

White Sox general manager Ken Williams got his wish. Hoping the Cubs would inject a shot of adrenaline into his team and U.S. Cellular Field this week, the North Siders came through as always.

Starting pitcher Jake Peavy and catcher A.J. Pierzynski going nose-to-nose in the dugout after the sixth inning wasn’t exactly Pierzynski vs. Michael Barrett in the main event, but it was an invigorating in-house undercard that sparked the Sox to a 4-3 victory that gave them two out of three in the series and pushed them to within two games of .500.

Pierzynski and Peavy both talked down the significance of their verbal exchange and made light of it while declining to offer specifics.

“Well, we were talking about Alabama vs. Florida,” Pierzynski said. “He has bragging rights because Alabama beat them the last couple times. That’s about it.”

“Me and A.J. were actually arguing over who is the better hunter,” Peavy said. “AJ went on a safari this winter. I claimed to be a real hunter, although I can’t say I’ve been out of the states. We got in a pretty heated discussion. He’s harvested kudu and a lion. I like to harvest white tail deer. We were kind of going over that. You know how that stuff goes.

“But listen, we are just competing and it’s going to happen from time to time. We are both very passionate people. A.J. won us a ballgame tonight. There was no ill-will, nothing. It’s part of playing the game and being a part of a team.”

Peavy, who carried a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning, gave up a home run to Carlos Pena leading it off. After Reed Johnson struck out, Peavy allowed three consecutive singles and another run, and with his pitch count at 104, was pulled by manager Ozzie Guillen.

As Peavy walked off, he gestured with his glove toward Pierzynski on the mound. After Chris Sale pitched out of the jam, Peavy and Pierzynski, still wearing his mask, stood face-to-face in the dugout near the tunnel to the clubhouse, exchanging words. The White Sox telecast showed the confrontation.

Although Peavy denied it, the best guess was that the issue involved pitch calling, something Pierzynski excels at.

“That’s a misunderstanding with the sign or whatever, you have to ask them first,” Guillen said. “One thing, when they have a problem, we discuss, we talk about it and then move on. I don’t think it was a big deal.”

“We’re fine. I love Jake Peavy,” Pierzynski said. “He’s a great competitor, and in the heat of the moment, things happen. And it wasn’t a big deal. I guess it was caught on camera. But it wasn’t a big deal. We were just talking about Tide vs. Gators, and he has the bragging rights.”

Back to the facts and away from the fiction: The Sox have won 17 consecutive interleage series, including six against the Cubs. They’ve won nine of their last 12 against the Cubs.

Peavy (3-1) was making his first start since June 5, when he left the game with a strained groin. He gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks in 51/3 innings. He struck out five and wouldn’t have bagged the win without the Sox bullpen.

Sale pitched a scoreless seventh and, after giving up a leadoff single to Blake DeWitt in the eighth, gave way to Jesse Crain, who retired both hitters he faced.

Crain did uncork a high pitchout over Pierzynski’s head that allowed DeWitt to steal second easily. With DeWitt on third, lefty Matt Thornton struck out Kosuke Fukudome to end the eighth.

Sergio Santos pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save, and the Sox bullpen lowered its ERA to 0.44 over the last nine games.

The Sox scored three in the fourth on a two-run triple by Pierzynski and a suicide squeeze bunt by Brent Lillibridge that scored the Sox catcher. Lillibridge was hit by a Doug Davis pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth to give the Sox their fourth run.

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