Uribe holding his own at third

Uribe holding his own at third

OAKLAND -- The status of Joe Crede, the White Sox injured starting third baseman, was brought up prior to Sunday's 13-1 drubbing of Oakland to complete a rare White Sox series victory at McAfee Coliseum. And for a moment, manager Ozzie Guillen took a humorous double-take to reacquaint himself with the All-Star.

"I forgot about Joe Crede," Guillen said with a laugh. "Wow, it has been so long. Is Crede still around? No, when we get back to Chicago we will have a better idea and see where he is.

"Right now, I don't expect to have him anytime soon. We have to be prepared for that. I think [Juan] Uribe has been doing a good job playing third base. We just are focused on what we have here. When we get to Chicago, we'll see exactly what it is."

With all due respect to Crede, who plays Gold Glove caliber defense and has become one of the top clutch hitters in the AL when healthy, the White Sox are doing more than surviving without him. Much of that credit goes to Uribe, the once-forgotten man who was thought to be on his way out of Chicago three or four times this year, and now has become an unsung savior for the team's postseason drive.

Uribe moved to third base when Crede went down with back soreness and stiffness on July 22, partially because Guillen and his coaching staff thought he would provide better defense than Josh Fields, Crede's replacement from the Minors. Uribe has been nearly flawless at the hot corner, an intangible needed behind a White Sox pitching staff that features a bulk of hurlers who rely on putting the ball in play and letting the defense catch the baseball.

Although Uribe had played 27 total games at third base prior to this season, all of them coming in 2004 with the White Sox, Guillen never had a doubt he could do the job.

"He is a baseball player. If you put a glove in Uribe's hands, he is going to do the job, no matter where I put him," Guillen said. "We have a lot of confidence in him. That's the reason Josh Fields is in Triple-A; because Uribe is playing real well at third base, and that's what we need.

"I'm real happy and proud of him, the way he handled himself this year," Guillen added.

And now, Uribe has started to hit. He entered Sunday with 11 hits in his last 32 at-bats, raising his average to .234, and then produced what just might have been the biggest at-bat of the game, albeit in a blowout. With the White Sox holding a 1-0 lead and Paul Konerko perched on second with two outs in the second inning, Uribe launched his fifth home run of the year on a 3-2 pitch from Gio Gonzalez.

Uribe looked at a 2-2 pitch just off the corner of the plate, fouled off two good pitches from Gonzalez and then went deep. The White Sox would be a better team with Crede back in the lineup, but for now, Guillen and the organization have to count on Uribe's production.

"We just have to go week by week, we don't have any date set for him," said Guillen of Crede's return. "I'm not going to bring Joe just to bring Joe.

"Joe has to start swinging the bat and swinging the bat good. You are not going to miss a month of baseball, then all of a sudden you come to the big leagues and start playing. We need a guy who will produce. Right now, we are playing real well."

The team has played well not only without Crede, but also in the absence of setup man Scott Linebrink, who is currently sidelined by a right shoulder injury, and the loss of Jose Contreras for the season due to a ruptured left Achilles tendon. No excuses have been made by the White Sox, though, in the middle of a playoff push.

"You can't control injuries," pitcher Javier Vazquez said. "Give it your best with the guys we have, and when we get guys healthy, they can help us more."

Pitching matchup
CWS: LHP Mark Buehrle (10-10, 3.77 ERA)
Buehrle was outstanding for a second consecutive start Wednesday, throwing seven shutout innings against Kansas City and earning the win. He allowed only five hits and struck out five batters. He also didn't walk anybody, bringing his K:BB ratio to 7:1 over his last three starts. Buehrle brought his record to .500 for the first time since April 14, and has re-established himself as the captain of the staff. Buehrle has yet to face Seattle this season, but owns a 6-4 record with a 3.75 ERA against the Mariners lifetime.

SEA: LHP Jarrod Washburn (5-12, 4.58 ERA)
The left-hander surrendered just one earned run in his last outing, but three unearned runs sent him to his 12th loss of the season and 98th of his MLB career. Two of the seven hits he allowed were home runs, the first time since May 10 that he gave up more than one home run in a game. Washburn has posted nine quality starts in his last 14 outings, but has just two wins to show for it. He is 3-4 for a 3.92 ERA in nine career outings at U.S. Cellular Field.

Tidbits
Guillen will wait until after Monday's game to decide upon Tuesday night's starter. Clayton Richard pitched one perfect inning of relief Sunday, striking out two. He threw only 13 pitches, making him a likely candidate to fill the vacancy. ... Although no official word has been given for Seattle's starter on Wednesday, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey looks to be the choice. Washburn and Felix Hernandez, Seattle's top two pitchers, will face the White Sox in the first two games of the series. "It's not going to be an easy series at all," Guillen said of facing the Mariners at home. "Every team we play, they are good, even if they are below .500." ... Orlando Cabrera is batting .320 during his six-game hitting streak ... The White Sox nine grand slams in 2008, the latest of which being Alexei Ramirez's shot on Sunday, are the second most in club history. The 2006 squad hit 11.

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Up next
• Tuesday: White Sox (TBD) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 7-7, 3.04), 7:11 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: White Sox (Gavin Floyd, 12-6, 3.75) vs. Mariners (TBD), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Off-day

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.