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Adam Dunn makes productive return to Sox’ lineup

Adam Dunn rips double eighth his first game back after sitting for seven with strained oblique. Dunn played field first

Adam Dunn rips a double in the eighth in his first game back after sitting for seven with a strained oblique. Dunn played in the field at first base. | AP

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The facts: 1:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The pitchers: Jake Peavy (10-11, 3.27 ERA) vs. Scott Diamond (11-7, 3.46).

Updated: October 17, 2012 6:49AM

Adam Dunn was back, and so was the good sound of the ball off Paul Konerko’s bat when the White Sox’ cleanup hitter is right. Those were two significant, encouraging additions to the lineup Saturday.

Dunn singled, doubled, walked, scored a run and ran the bases well after missing seven games with a strained oblique.

He played first base at the urging of trainer Herm Schneider, who wanted him to keep moving and stay loose.

Dunn is sore, but he said other Sox are playing with more discomfort than he is.

“As long as it doesn’t hamper my swing, then I’m fine with it,’’ he said. “The days when I couldn’t play it was because when I’d go swing, obviously it felt like it would rip off in half.’’

Konerko’s bat has been coming to life. He hit his 23rd homer and drove in three runs.

“Yeah, it just sounds different off his bat,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s the thing. You hear it. And it’s different for him, too. He’s feeling that confidence. He’s had some better passes at the plate and that’s a good thing for us.’’

Playoff fever

If the Sox hold on to win the American League Central, they likely will host the winner of the AL East on ­Oct. 6-7 in the first two games of the best-of-five ­division series. Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) would be at the East winner.

For this year’s postseason only, the division series begins with two home games for lower seeds, ­followed by up to three home games for higher seeds. The format, which eliminates a travel day before Game 5, was necessary because the season schedule was made before the new postseason setup was determined. The ­division series returns to the 2-2-1 format next year.

If Chris Sale makes his final three starts every fifth day, he would line up to pitch the playoff opener.

Sale by the numbers

Sale (17-7, 2.78) reached the 175 innings mark on Friday while becoming the first Sox lefty since Mark Buehrle in 2002 to win 17 games. Buehrle won 19 that year. Sale has won 11 times after a Sox loss, tying the Mets’ R.A. Dickey.

Sale’s 17 wins in his first 23 decisions is the best start by a Sox lefty since Juan Pizaro went 17-6 in 1964. Such numbers will get Sale plenty of votes in Cy Young balloting at season’s end.

“I don’t pay attention to anything like that,” Sale said. “You start paying attention to things like that you get a little selfish and what’s really important slips away. I’m not trying to win any awards or anything like that. The only award I want is the big shiny trophy at the end.”

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