CHICAGO (AP) — Just when it looked as if the Chicago White Sox's longest winning streak in 49 years would end quietly, the Southsiders made their crosstown rivals work hard to avoid a series sweep.
The White Sox scored three times in the ninth off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol before he struck out Alex Rios swinging with the tying runs on base to preserve an 8-6 victory on Sunday. The White Sox's streak, which moved them back into the thick of the AL Central race, ended at 11 games. It was their longest since a 12-gamer in 1961.
"It was a good run," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "It was good to see the fight at the end of the game. They were just a little bit better in all areas in the game. You have to tip your hat to Ryan Dempster. He pitched a great game."
Tyler Colvin and Alfonso Soriano homered for the Cubs. The Cubs led 6-2 after the top of the sixth and a weekend that began with Carlos Zambrano's dugout tantrum and indefinite suspension ended on a positive note for a team still far below .500.
"We've got to be professional," Soriano said. "Whatever happens outside is part of the game. We're here to play everyday."
Konerko hit his 20th homer for the White Sox, tying Frank Thomas' club record with 11 seasons of 20 or more.
Down 8-3, the White Sox started to come back when Marmol walked Mark Kotsay and A.J. Pierzynski with one out. After Alexei Ramirez flied out, Gordon Beckham hit an RBI double and Juan Pierre followed with a two-run single. Pinch-hitter Andruw Jones walked before Rios struck out.
"Well, it was enjoyable," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We enjoyed it a lot. I think the guys are having more fun now and they believe we can keep playing like this."
Colvin's three-run shot off John Danks (7-6) in the third gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead and Derrek Lee extended it with a two-run double in the fifth,
Soriano led off a two-run eighth with his 11th homer, connecting against Tony Pena. And after the White Sox came up short in the ninth, the Cubs could finally exhale after a chaotic weekend.
Three years ago, they turned things around and went on the win the NL Central after Zambrano fought in the dugout and clubhouse with former catcher Michael Barrett and manager Lou Piniella got ejected in back-to-back games against Atlanta.
"I don't think it's because of the Zambrano incident that we win today," Aramis Ramirez said. "I don't think we're going to get hot because of it. No team wants to go through that."
Ryan Dempster (6-6) went seven innings as the Cubs won for the third time in nine games. He allowed a two-run single in a shaky first to Carlos Quentin and a leadoff homer to Konerko in the sixth, but was solid otherwise.
The loss was just the second in 17 games for the White Sox, who got a rare poor start and came up short trying to extend a club record with their fourth straight three-game sweep. Instead, they fell for the first time since June 13 when the Cubs' Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the ninth in a 1-0 victory.
White Sox starters were a combined 12-1 in the last 17 games, but Danks couldn't protect the early lead. He allowed six runs and seven hits after winning three straight starts.
"We've been winning games and fortunately the teams in front of us were losing," Danks said. "We're in striking distance now, and we're in a range where felt we would be going into the season so just have to continue to play good baseball."
NOTES: The White Sox placed closer Bobby Jenks, who has missed the past three games, on the bereavement list and purchased the contract of LHP Erick Threets from Triple-A Charlotte. Manager Ozzie Guillen hopes to get Jenks back on Wednesday. ... SS Omar Vizquel moved past Tony Perez into 53rd place with his 2,733rd hit when he singled in the first. He added another in the fifth. ... Lee was the DH for the second straight day because of some back stiffness. Although Lee called it a "non-issue," Piniella said "we'll see how he feels tomorrow." The Cubs meet Pittsburgh on Monday, meaning Lee would have to play the field.