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Sox muzzled by Weaver

Sox muzzled by Weaver

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CHICAGO -- It was a hectic week for John Danks. Leading up to his start on Sunday against the Mariners, the rookie southpaw was shuffled in and out of the rotation as manager Ozzie Guillen tried to set his starting five.

When it was all set, Guillen opted to give the 22-year-old Danks some rest, rather than skip a start, and then he would go with his usual No. 5 starter against one of the top offenses in the American League.

Maybe he could have used the week off.

Danks gave up six runs on eight hits, including three home runs, in 4 1/3 innings as the Mariners blasted the White Sox, 6-0, at U.S. Cellular Field on a hot Sunday afternoon.

Following his last start in a 2-1 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, Danks was initially slated to make his next start on time. But midway through the week, Guillen elected to have Jose Contreras make the start instead, in order to give the rookie a day off. But after Contreras threw two innings out of the bullpen on Wednesday, Guillen reinserted Danks back into the starting rotation.

But Danks maintained that the weird week had little effect on his performance on Sunday.

"I don't really have too much of a routine," Danks said. "I just show up and get ready to go. I don't wake up at a certain time or anything. I don't think anything said earlier in this week had anything to do with today."

Things got off to a rocky start immediately for Danks, as the Mainers struck for a pair of first inning runs. The next four Seattle tallies came on the long ball, as Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre and Jose Guillen all took the rookie deep.

Arm fatigue has been a concern for the rookie, who had thrown 118 big league innings entering Sunday's start. A major reason that Guillen was considering holding Danks out was to give him some rest before the final stretch of the season.

"I feel fine right now," Danks said. "I felt like I had good life on the fastball at certain times today. It's just part of it. I just got hit around, didn't have any command today and against a good lineup, sometimes this happens."

Guillen has not yet decided what he will do with Danks over the final month and a half of the season. Gavin Floyd had an equally disastrous outing on Saturday, leaving the Sox management with a tough choice for next weekend.

"I was sitting talking with [pitching coach Don] Cooper about what we should do," Guillen said. "He's going to have a plan for me later on today or tomorrow to show me what we think is going to be the best. Hopefully today I have the answer."

While the Mariners were abusing Danks during his 4 1/3 innings, the White Sox offense again could not back up the young pitcher. Much-maligned Seattle starter Jeff Weaver fired his seventh career shutout, holding the South Siders to five hits in his nine innings.

The Sox put more than one runner on base in just two innings, as Weaver, who entered the game with a 3-10 record and a 6.20 ERA, struck out eight without issuing a walk.

"He did what Weaver does -- change speeds, use the whole plate, cut it, sink it, change arm angles," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "It is what Weaver does and what he has done for a long time. When Weaver puts it over the plate, he is pretty successful."

But even with Danks' struggles and the offense's inability to break through against Weaver, the 36,629 fans in attendance did get something to cheer about. Closer Bobby Jenks entered for the ninth inning and got the Mariners in order to match the all-time record for hitters retired .

Jenks has now set down 41 straight hitters, matching the mark set by San Francisco's Jim Barr in 1972. Jenks had retired 38 straight hitters coming into Sunday's game, a mark that was tied for the best in the American League with David Wells, who got 38 straight in 1998.

"I think the toughest thing is because you have to wait so many days to do it," Guillen said. "To make that happen, to prepare yourself every day mentally and physically to do what he did, that's something."

Jenks streak began on July 17 and spans 14 outings, including 13 straight perfect trips to the mound of at least one inning, the most since 1957.

"Obviously, we took it on the chin today," Cooper said. "I told Ozzie, either this day goes completely down the [tubes] or we end up leaving with a nice little feeling. We got the good feeling, although, let's face it, we didn't want to lose the game."

Jenks' history-making performance just put a cap on another terrific performance by the entire White Sox bullpen. The Sox relief corps combined to throw 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball in relief of Danks. The bullpen has combined to throw 25 2/3 straight innings without allowing an earned run, a streak dating back six games.

Jim Thome continued his own pursuit of an important milestone on Sunday, but missed his 491st career home run by literally inches. Thome blasted a first-inning pitch off Weaver out to center field, but the ball hit off the yellow stripe at the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field for a double.

The hit snapped an 0-for-20 streak for Thome that dated back to his last home run on Aug. 4.

Alex Gyr is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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