CHICAGO -- Talk surrounding Joe Crede always begins with the White Sox third baseman's virtually unparalleled defense at the hot corner.
Actually, that talk began and ended with his flawless play in the field, until recent news of the two herniated discs in his lower back was revealed in Cleveland. Simply put, Crede is known for his glove, and not nearly as much for his bat.
But during Monday's 7-5 victory over Detroit before the eighth sellout of the season at U.S. Cellular Field, Crede proved that he's more than diving stops, cat-like leaps in the air and strong, accurate throws to Paul Konerko at first base. Crede's three-run home run with one out in the seventh was the crowning blow of a five-run rally against reliever Chris Spurling (2-1) and moved the White Sox to 62-29 for the season.
It's the high-water mark for the team since ending its American League West championship campaign in 1983 at 99-63. For those still keeping track, Minnesota dropped 13 games behind the South Siders in the American League Central by virtue of its extra-inning loss at home to Baltimore. Maybe the magic number is more apropos at this point, with it standing at 59 entering Tuesday's action.
As for Crede, his goal in the seventh was to get the ball in the air and cut the Tigers' 4-2 lead to one. His at-bat followed Konerko's 21st home run leading off the inning, Jermaine Dye's double one out later and A.J. Pierzynski's single to right. A hanging slider on Spurling's 2-2 offering left Crede with more than he bargained for, producing his 13th drive to clear the fences.
"With the wind blowing out, I knew I had it," said Crede, who is hitting .381 with runners in scoring position and fewer than two outs. "It felt good right off the bat. It seems like I want to be the guy up there in that situation. My concentration is a little bit higher."
"He's a gamer," added Konerko of Crede. "He's playing winning baseball and doing things that don't always show up in the stats. If anyone has a problem with that, you don't know the game."
Crede's go-ahead drive was followed by Juan Uribe's seventh home run, snapping an 0-for-23 funk for the shortstop. Frank Thomas' 12th home run in the eighth off Franklyn German, in a matchup between two of the more physically imposing specimens in all of baseball, capped off the scoring.
Orlando Hernandez made his first start since June 14 against Arizona and was so impressive that he earned a "wow" from manager Ozzie Guillen during his postgame talk concerning the right-hander. Hernandez allowed four runs on six hits over six innings, but still left the game trailing Detroit (44-47) and starter Sean Douglass by a 4-1 margin. Hernandez gave the White Sox pretty much everything he had with 96 pitches.
"Duque was great, and he threw better than what we thought," Guillen said. "We were concerned about how he was going to show up after missing that many days. He left a couple of pitches up in the strike zone, but we expected that. His velocity was good."
"I'm happy to be out there pitching, and most of all, I'm happy the team won," said Hernandez through translator Ozzie Guillen Jr.
The news was not quite perfect for the White Sox, as Dustin Hermanson was unavailable to close out the victory for reliever Luis Vizcaino (4-3) due to soreness in his back, according to Guillen. ESPN Radio 1000, the White Sox's flagship station, reported late Monday that Hermanson had a clean MRI earlier in the day.
Joe Crede / 3B
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Cliff Politte picked up his first save, although Ivan Rodriguez's ninth-inning home run snapped his 20-game scoreless string, covering 19 2/3 innings. Guillen presently can opt for Politte (1.17 ERA) or Damaso Marte (2.67 ERA) in the last inning but sounded as if a decision would be made soon on Hermanson, if he was unable to return in the short term.
"If he's not ready, someone else will be ready," said Guillen of Hermanson. "I can't wait that long. If he can't help us, we will try to figure out how we get someone here to help us."
The thrilling victory came before 37,556 in attendance, some of whom welcomed back Magglio Ordonez to Chicago in their own special way. Ordonez finished with two hits in a rather uneventful evening, but even the Detroit right fielder can appreciate the success achieved by his former team.
Guillen felt as if it was important to send this big crowd away happy, especially after Oakland closed out the home portion of the White Sox's first-half schedule with a three-game sweep. Konerko talked about comeback wins being more detrimental to the team losing the lead, meaning the White Sox have a chance to take control Tuesday if they jump out quickly.
Crede, who extended his errorless string to 46 games at third, just seemed proud of being part of this special group of players.
"It's been a lot of fun in the clubhouse," Crede said. "I look forward to going to the field every day, as I'm sure everyone else does. I think winning takes care of a lot of things, whether you are doing bad personally or anything off the field."
"This team has a lot of will, but things have to go your way," Konerko added. "There is some luck involved. We are trying to ride it, with some good momentum and good vibes going on."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.