The White Sox proved Saturday night they don't have to rely solely on the middle of their batting order.
Thanks to the clutch hitting of Joe Crede and reserves Pablo Ozuna and Sandy Alomar Jr., as well as some good fortune, the Sox helped Mark Buehrle win his second consecutive start with a 5-3 victory over the Royals. The Sox closed within 4½ games of Detroit in the AL Central and remained a half-game ahead of Minnesota in the wild-card race.
"The way they chipped in and pitched, it was the effort we wish we had every day," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Obviously, we're not going to win every day, but that was a great team effort."
The Sox rallied from a 3-2 deficit with three runs in the seventh and eighth innings. They also benefited when Joey Gathright, who was inserted into center field for defense, lost a fly in the twilight that enabled Tadahito Iguchi to get credit for the go-ahead RBI with a double.
"We got the big hits when we needed them," Buehrle said. "Guys got on base, and we got a little luck. That ball should have been caught. It gave me a chance to win. You need luck on your side, and we got a lot."
The Sox played without designated hitter Jim Thome, who was resting a sore left hamstring. But his teammates picked up the slack.
The only exception was right fielder Jermaine Dye, who struck out four times and had his 12-game hitting streak snapped.
"That's why I sent [Rob] Mackowiak to second [on a failed steal attempt in the ninth], to make sure Jermaine doesn't get five," Guillen joked.
Shortstop Juan Uribe was the only starting position player besides Dye who didn't get a hit. But he laid down a sacrifice bunt during a two-run seventh.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Sox have waited until the latter innings to mount a serious threat, but this one helped them snap a two-game losing streak.
Rookie center fielder Brian Anderson started the winning rally with a leadoff double and scored the tying run on Alomar's shallow sacrifice fly.
Ozuna, who started in place of Scott Podsednik in the leadoff spot because the Royals started left-hander Odalis Perez, doubled to right-center and scored on Iguchi's fly to Gathright.
The Sox added an insurance run in the eighth but missed a chance to pad the lead by a wider margin. Konerko led off with a double but had to wait until Crede's double cleared the head of Gathright and only advanced to third.
Ross Gload, starting because of Thome's injury, had an RBI single and stole second. But the rally fizzled when Anderson struck out and Uribe hit a line drive that was caught by a diving Angel Berroa, who tagged second to double off Gload.
For the second consecutive night, the bullpen came through and now has hurled six consecutive scoreless innings. Matt Thornton bailed Mike MacDougal out of a jam when he induced pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger to hit a soft grounder back to the mound on his first pitch.
Bobby Jenks struck out the side in the ninth to extend his major-league-leading saves total to 39 after converting his 11th consecutive attempt.
The Sox took a 2-1 lead in the third. Alomar started it with a single and Crede capped it with a two-out hit.
Buehrle (12-11) won consecutive starts for the first time since his three straight in late June made him an AL All-Star with a 9-4 record.
"He's still on the road back," Guillen said of Buehrle, who had to work out of several jams.
Said Buehrle: "I'm giving my team a chance to win. That's what I've been shooting for these last five or six outings."