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Juan Pierre drives home only run in White Sox’ 1-0 win over Cubs


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Updated: May 9, 2012 9:37AM

Plate umpire Gary Darling called a borderline pitch from Cubs starter Matt Garza to White Sox hitter Juan Pierre on a 1-2 count in the sixth
inning Saturday a ball.

Garza was miffed, but he didn’t fault Darling.

‘‘I was mad,’’ Garza said. ‘‘It’s a big situation and a big moment, and I wanted that pitch. But it doesn’t make it any better I hung a slider on the next one. That’s why I got mad. You tip your cap to Pierre. He beat me there.’’

Pierre singled — the first hit off Garza (4-7) — to drive in Gordon Beckham, who had walked and reached third on a sacrifice and a wild pitch. Beckham crossed the plate for the only run of the Sox’ 1-0 victory at Wrigley Field, their fourth triumph in five games in the crosstown rivalry that concludes today.

But more important for the Sox was reaching the .500 mark (42-42) for the first time since April 16.

‘‘Just opportunities that presented themselves, and I put a
couple of good swings on some balls,’’ Pierre said of his third consecutive game with the go-ahead hit. ‘‘We’re playing good baseball and making strides, gaining ground. The guys are coming together, and that’s always good to see. .  .  .

‘‘We’re right at .500. We’d like to be better, but that’s where we’re at right now. Hopefully, we continue our winning ways.’’

The Cubs, meanwhile, fell 16 games below .500 (34-50) with a loss manager Mike Quade watched mostly from his office. He was ejected in the second inning for vehemently arguing a double-play call at second base.

Quade argued with umpire Paul Emmel that Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham was far off the bag as he took a throw from third baseman Brent Morel on a grounder by Alfonso Soriano. With Carlos Pena (bunt single) on second and Marlon Byrd (walk) on first, Beckham strayed from the bag but got the so-called ‘‘neighborhood’’ call from Emmel.

‘‘I thought that was taking the old-school neighborhood play a little too far, and that was important,’’ said Quade, who was ejected for the third time this season. ‘‘To me, it was a big play. We had the same situation three times [with runners in scoring position early against Sox starter Phil Humber]. We want to be more productive, and we weren’t.

‘‘But I wasn’t too happy. I was out of the dugout as the play was developing. To me, I thought he
was way off the bag. I thought the throw took him way outside, and I just don’t think you assume that [out].’’

The fourth inning brought a nearly identical play. Byrd grounded to Morel, who threw wide to second to force Aramis Ramirez. Beckham stretched over the bag to grab the throw and got the out call.

‘‘[Emmel] got that play right, I thought, which was a hell of a play,’’ Quade said.

Close plays were good enough for the Sox, who turned three double plays and made the most of their four hits — all singles — against Garza, who went the distance in
the loss.

‘‘I had a lot better stuff today than in my no-hitter [last season with the Tampa Bay Rays],’’ Garza said.

The Sox were impressed.

‘‘That’s the best I’ve ever seen Matt Garza throw,’’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. ‘‘He had control of every pitch, in and out, throwing
really hard. For J.P. to get the hit after a great at-bat from Beckham with the walk was huge. .  .  . [Pierre] had a great at-bat. Two strikes, fouled off some pitches and just flipped the ball out there. That’s what J.P. can do. He puts the ball in play, makes things happen.’’

Garza, who hit 102 mph on a pitch to Sox slugger Adam Dunn, said the outing was bittersweet.

‘‘It’s a heartbreak every time you lose,’’ he said. ‘‘But I learned from what I did today. We battled. We didn’t have success at the plate, but we went up against a guy [Humber] who’s had a lot of success this year.’’

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