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Homer-happy White Sox finish sweep

Homer-happy White Sox finish sweep

CHICAGO -- Starting pitchers beware, the White Sox offense is on a mission.

The South Siders have made a habit recently of knocking opposing pitchers out of the game early, and Wednesday was no exception.

The first five White Sox batters of the game reached base and scored en route to a 15-3 win to complete a sweep of the Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field.

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The offensive explosion didn't end in the opening frame, though. Not hardly.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was pulled after allowing eight runs through the first two innings, but none of his replacements fared much better.

The White Sox scored in each of the first six innings, including four home runs. Alexei Ramirez capped the first inning with a three-run blast. A.J. Pierzynski and Nick Swisher also belted homers.

The most notable homer of the game, though, came from Ken Griffey Jr. in the second inning. He sent Dickey's 2-2 offering 390 feet over the right-field wall to bring his career total to 609, tying him with Sammy Sosa for fifth place on the all-time list.

Griffey's humility after the game was in contrast to the way his manager poked fun at him.

"About time," Ozzie Guillen said with a smile. "I never thought I was going to see him hit a home run as a manager.

"He's one guy who's going to help this lineup just with his presence. If he starts swinging the bat, obviously it's going to be a dangerous lineup. Obviously, every time Junior's at the plate, he's dangerous. I think he can still swing the bat."

It was Griffey's first home run since being acquired by the White Sox on July 31. The White Sox have hit 14 home runs over the past four games and have outscored their opponents, 55-10, in their last six home games.

The team has won eight of its last nine games and five in a row.

The opinion in the clubhouse was unanimous following the win: Right now, playing baseball on the South Side is fun.

"This was kind of the icing on the cake for this series," Pierzynski said.

"It was a good way to come back after a night game. The day before an off-day, it's even better," Paul Konerko added. "Those are good when you get out ahead big like that early."

Ramirez has been a big part of the White Sox offense over the last two weeks. He's reached base safely in 15 consecutive games, hitting .317 in that span. He has even put himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation.

"I basically stay the same through the stretch," Ramirez said. "Do my routine, my style of play remains the same, and paying close attention to the pitchers I'm facing and the coaches. And that's basically the result.

"I've never been on a team that has hit like this, been on this kind of stretch. But I'm not surprised by it. We have some great hitters on this team, and the spirits are very high and everyone is very prepared. So I'm not surprised we can accomplish something like this, but I've never been on a team that's been able to do that."

Gavin Floyd had what he labeled a "pretty good" outing, though it was not without its mistakes. The right-hander threw six innings and allowed three runs on six hits.

Guillen would prefer to see his pitchers working deeper into games, especially when winning by 12 runs.

"He took advantage that we scored a lot of runs," Guillen said. "But you pitch five innings and you're at 100 pitches, we're looking for better stuff. Obviously, he won the game and they only scored a couple runs. But in the meanwhile, when you go out there with the lead, we don't want to use the bullpen more than what we used."

"I kind of caught myself relaxing a little too much," Floyd added. "I tried to stay focused and keep on pitching the game that I usually pitch and try to stay in the game as long as possible. Sometimes you think, 'Whew, I've got a little breathing room,' but you really don't want to make it close. You still have to go out there and pitch, because anything can happen in this game."

The White Sox can't let go of their momentum, though. Not with the first-place Rays coming to town Friday.

"Now we got an off-day and we got a really good team coming in," Pierzynski said. "So we gotta keep up the intensity and keep it going and try to win a real tough series against a real good team."

David Just 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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