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Oz says critics were wrong about Pierre

CHICAGO IL - AUGUST 14: Juan Pierre #1 Chicago White Sox dives safely in3rd base as Mike Moustakas #8 Kansas

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 14: Juan Pierre #1 of the Chicago White Sox dives safely into 3rd base as Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals waits for the throw at U.S. Cellular Field on August 14, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Royals 6-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\121145982.jpg

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Updated: October 19, 2011 3:16AM

Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have struggled all season, but Juan Pierre quietly has rebounded from his poor start at the plate and on the bases.

Pierre is hitting .347
(59-for-170) in his last 42 games and leads the American League with 35 infield hits. He also has 20 stolen bases in 33 attempts.

‘‘In baseball, most of the time, water gets to its level,’’ said manager Ozzie Guillen, who was Pierre’s staunchest defender against criticism early in the season. ‘‘It was embarrassing how people were talking about him — and sad. Sometimes I get angry about it. They don’t know who Juan Pierre was and is.

‘‘This kid works hard every day, and the production is out there. When you struggle and you just don’t do anything to get better, then you are not going to get better. Juan Pierre shows up and plays, and he plays every day the right way.

‘‘I remember saying I wish I had 25 Juan Pierres. People were making fun of me. It’s not what he does but how he goes about his job. When you have a kid here at 12 o’clock in the afternoon who works to get better, the baseball gods will protect you. That’s what he does. And he’s been doing it for a long, long time.

‘‘I want 25 guys like that. Maybe they hit .220 with one home run, but we are going to have a better chance to win. As a manager, I need winners. And I think Juan Pierre is one.’’

Summer Sale

Left-hander Chris Sale marked his first anniversary in the majors Aug. 6. He earned his fourth save of the season Saturday as Guillen continues using him to complement Sergio Santos.

‘‘I know it’s his first full year here, but we have two more lefties in the bullpen [Will Ohman and Matt Thornton] to help him,” Guillen said. “We never overuse him. I don’t worry about his innings; I worry about how we’re going to use him.’’

Sale has pitched 122/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

Six-man update

The option of returning to a six-man rotation is back with the addition of right-hander Zach Stewart, but the Sox still are weighing how the starters will be scheduled if he’s added to the mix.

‘‘It depends on how things go the next couple of days,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘If something happens and one of the starters doesn’t go the distance, then Stewart will go to the bullpen, like we did in Baltimore. But I don’t expect any changes right now. A few [starters] need an extra day [of rest], but we’ll see how it works from Tuesday on.’’

Still swinging

Paul Konerko continues to hit despite being unable to run well because of a bruised left calf. He went 3-for-3 with two walks Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

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