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White Sox get great tip from Juan Pierre in win over Blue Jays

Sox left fielder Juan Pierre who went 2-for-4 hits an infield single ninth inning Thursday Toronto. Alex Rios GordBeckham scored

Sox left fielder Juan Pierre, who went 2-for-4, hits an infield single in the ninth inning Thursday in Toronto. Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham scored on the play. | Chris Young~AP

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Updated: September 1, 2011 12:18AM

TORONTO — Sometimes you scratch and claw and take what they give you.

The Blue Jays gave, and the Sox foul-tipped their way to a 3-1 victory at the Rogers Centre on Thursday.

Staying alive by catching a tiny piece of a 3-2 slider in the dirt from left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, Juan Pierre took advantage of an extra swing and beat out an infield single that scored two runs in the ninth inning.

Sergio Santos (eighth save) and Jesse Crain (2-1), who had his 11th consecutive scoreless appearance, finished up where standout starter Phil Humber left off.

Pierre, once stuck in the throes of an early-season slump at the plate, on the bases and in the field, also drove in a run in the fifth with a single and reached base four times. He also stole a base.

“One thing about Juan, he always hustles and plays the game well,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. “When he swings the bat well, this team has more life.’’

Both runs in the ninth were unearned. Alex Rios reached second on third baseman John McDonald’s throwing error on a slow roller. With two outs, Gordon Beckham was hit by a pitch, and the Sox ended up with runners on second and third thanks to a wild pitch and Beckham’s stolen base.

That set up the at-bat for Pierre, who, after fouling off the 3-2 pitch, hit the ball sharply behind the bag at first and beat Rzepczynski to first.

“The reason I left him there is he has been swinging the bat good against lefties [16-for-41],’’ Guillen said. ‘‘Right now he’s clicking. He is swinging the bat very well.’’

Also clicking is Humber, who lowered his ERA to 2.85. He went 7

2/3 innings and gave up a solo homer to Yunel Escobar in the fifth.

“It’s easy to stay on an even keel when you have struggled like I have,’’ said Humber, whose up-and-down career is at an all-time high. “It’s been a long road for me. I’m thankful to have had a little success so far. I just want to help the team any way I can.’’

Which might be in the bullpen when the Sox go to a five-man rotation.

“I don’t think anybody is even thinking about it,’’ Humber said.

Humber didn’t have a great slider, but he had command of his fastball and challenged Blue Jays hitters.

“This [Toronto] team is very aggressive,’’ he said. “It goes unnoticed, but Alexei [Ramirez] makes all the plays out there. When we need an out, he makes the tough plays.’’

Humber left after Corey Patterson’s two-out single in the eighth. With home-run leader Jose Bautista up, Crain came on and allowed Patterson to steal second uncontested. Bautista was intentionally walked on a 3-1 pitch before Juan Rivera grounded into the third out.

“It’s nice having an idea when you are going to throw,’’ Crain said. “The bullpen is being handled great. Nobody is getting worn out, and we’re being put in good situations.’’

Adam Dunn, after striking out four times, will be dropped to seventh for tonight’s game.

“Just to help him relax a little bit,’’ Guillen said. “You can see it’s getting to him, and he’s worried. When he starts to hit, we’ll move him up again.’’

Dunn tossed his bat after the third strikeout and threw it farther on the fourth whiff than he did on the third, rolling it on the artificial turf almost to the Sox’ dugout.

Dunn was relieved that, in the end, it didn’t cost the Sox, who found themselves in third place for the first time since April 17.

“Juan had a good at-bat, just putting the ball in play there in the ninth,’’ Crain said. “It was an exciting way to start this four-game series.’’

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