Cruz homers as Mariners edge White Sox 4-3

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CHICAGO — Nelson Cruz’s balky right knee looked just fine while he jogged around the bases.

Cruz and Kyle Seager homered, and the sloppy Seattle Mariners beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3 on Saturday night for their third straight victory.

Seattle committed three errors, and Felix Hernandez (5-3) plunked Jose Abreu twice and threw a wild pitch. But Cruz’s two-run drive off Anthony Swarzak (4-3) — just the second homer allowed by the reliever this season — made it 4-3 Mariners in the sixth, and their bullpen shut down the lowly White Sox the rest of the way.

“We’ve been getting good pitching,” Cruz said, “so definitely when you get good pitching, you don’t have to score that many runs, like we’ve been doing the last couple days. Definitely the difference is the pitching.”

Cruz has been playing through a knee injury, but the designated hitter is batting .355 (11 for 31) with four homers and 13 RBIs in 10 games in July.

“I’m running better … I think I started feeling it a little bit getting to third base,” he said. “But running around the bases was good until I got to third base.”

Steve Cishek, Tony Zych and Nick Vincent each pitched a scoreless inning before Edwin Diaz finished for his 15th save in 18 chances. The right-hander struck out Abreu with runners on first and second for the final out.

“Running four guys in a row out there, it’s really hard to have all four on top of their game,” manager Scott Servais said. “But we needed it tonight and they did it.”

Melky Cabrera had four hits and two RBIs for last-place Chicago, including his fourth career leadoff homer. He also threw out Jean Segura trying to take second on his leadoff single in the first.

But the White Sox went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners in their sixth loss in seven games. They loaded the bases with no outs in the third and fifth and only came away with one run on Todd Frazier’s double-play grounder.

“We put them on the ropes a couple times and weren’t able to capitalize for sure,” manager Rick Renteria said.

Robinson Cano reached on a leadoff walk against Dan Jennings before Cruz greeted Swarzak with a drive to center for his 18th homer.

The game took a wild turn in the bottom half when Renteria was ejected for arguing with second base umpire Tom Hallion that Tim Anderson should have been awarded third on an errant pickoff attempt by Cishek. Renteria and Hallion had an animated discussion before the manager decided to leave the field.

Anderson advanced to third on Kevan Smith’s grounder to first and Adam Engel walked before Cabrera bounced out to end the inning.

“They keep fighting. They don’t quit,” Renteria said. “We’ll continue to do that and hopefully in the end it’ll pay some dividends and turn into victories on the other side of it.”

White Sox right-hander Mike Pelfrey allowed just one earned run on Seager’s 11th homer in the second inning, but he was pulled with two out in the fifth inning. He has just one win in his last 10 games, eight starts.

Hernandez was charged with three runs, one earned, and six hits in five innings in his second straight win. He pitched six sharp innings in Seattle’s 4-0 victory against Oakland on Sunday in their final game before the All-Star break.

“It was a battle the whole game,” he said. “Couldn’t find my rhythm. … I was all over the place.”

COMING UP

Seattle manager Scott Servais said Sam Gaviglio probably will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma when the Mariners need a fifth starter, likely Tuesday night at Houston. The corresponding move could depend on the health of Cruz, who has been bothered by a right knee injury.

“He says he feels better when he runs faster,” Servais said. “When he is going that — I don’t even call it half-speed, it is below half-speed — it looks like it hurts really bad and it’s ‘No, I’m fine, I’m fine. When I run fast I’m fine.’ That in-between, I don’t know. I do know I like him in the batter’s box, but we do need to have some coverage there if it continues because if you’re in a tight game and you’re down you’re going to have to pinch-run.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: RF Mitch Haniger jammed a thumb on a bunt attempt in the fifth. He was replaced by a pinch hitter in the sixth.

White Sox: OF Leury Garcia (sprained finger on left hand) could begin a rehab stint in the next day or two, according to manager Rick Renteria. “He’s been working, swinging the bat, doing all the things that he needs to,” Renteria said.

UP NEXT

Mariners RHP Andrew Moore (1-1, 3.86 ERA) and White Sox LHP Derek Holland (5-9, 5.01 ERA) are to start the series finale on Sunday. Moore is making his fourth career start. Holland is 1-6 with an 8.76 ERA in his last eight outings, falling off after a nice start to the season.