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White Sox’ hopes rising with Jake Peavy

Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko right argues with umpire Mike Muchlinski after Konerko was called out strikes fourth inning against

Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko, right, argues with umpire Mike Muchlinski after Konerko was called out on strikes in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Friday, May 6, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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Updated: August 20, 2011 12:31AM

SEATTLE — A sad-but-true
11-22 start for the White Sox seems to make Jake Peavy’s return to the rotation less important. Why rush him back when the starting pitching is the least of the Sox’ woes?

That’s not how pitching coach Don Cooper sees it. The Sox, who lost to the Mariners 3-2 on Brendan Ryan’s RBI single in the ninth against Matt Thornton for their eighth defeat in their last nine games, are so starved for victories they’ll do whatever it takes. And if that means starting Peavy against the Angels in Anaheim on Wednesday night, so be it.

“I don’t have expectations of innings and pitches,’’ Cooper said before the Sox faced the Mariners. “Give us a chance to win the game. Hopefully he can go six or seven [innings]. But just to win a game. We need our starting pitchers to put us in position to win games.’’

Phil Humber, who may come out of the rotation when Peavy gets back, continued to pitch like he shouldn’t. Humber gave up two runs on three hits over seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.97 and left with the score tied 2-2. He struck out four and walked three. In his six starts, Humber’s ERA is 2.65.

Thornton (0-3) pitched the eighth and ninth. He allowed three singles in the ninth, making a winner of Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez (4-2), who pitched a complete-game five-hitter.

Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly that scored Juan Pierre in the fourth for his 26th RBI gave the Sox a 1-0 lead against Hernandez, who had retired the first nine Sox in order.

The Mariners scored two in the sixth on RBI doubles by Milton Bradley — who later was ejected after getting called out on strikes — and Justin Smoak. But the Sox quickly tied it 2-2 when Carlos Quentin hit his seventh home run leading off the seventh.

Gordon Beckham got caught in a rundown between third and home in the eighth as the Sox squandered a chance to take the lead. Beckham led off with a double and was bunted to third by Pierre. With the infield in, Ramirez grounded hard to Ryan at shortstop, and Beckham, moving on contact, was caught. Adam Dunn walked for the second time to put Ramirez on second, but Hernandez got Konerko to tap out to the mound.

“I got caught too far off the bag,” Beckham said. “I made a mistake. My fault. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a win for Phil. He deserved it.”

Peavy threw 100 pitches in a Class AAA rehab outing in Toledo on Thursday. He was expected to join the team Friday around game time. He told reporters on Thursday that he felt good and couldn’t wait to pitch for the Sox. He will throw a sideline session today or Sunday.

“Nothing is definite,’’ Cooper said. “We haven’t sat down and spoke about it. But it looks good for the 11th [Wednesday].’’

Coming back from surgery to re-attach a torn lat and shoulder tendinitis the cropped up in the first stages of his rehab during spring training, Peavy felt good and Cooper said the main thing was that “he’s feeling good, healthy and it looks like his rehab may be over.’’

The next question is who comes out of the rotation when Peavy comes back. Humber has the lowest ERA of any starter, but there’s no way Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson or John Danks are coming out of the rotation.

A six-man rotation or variation of it with Humber making spot starts to give Buehrle and Peavy an occasional day is a possibility.

“We’ll figure all that out. Nobody is out,’’ Cooper said. “Who knows. We got some off days there. We might give some guys extra rest here and there, but nobody is out. We haven’t gotten that far.’’

Besides, Peavy has had setbacks before and he won’t be considered a sure thing until he strings together several starts at the major league level.’’

“I’d love to see Jake on the mound for us,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. “The thing is, I don’t want him to be the hero.’’

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