CHICAGO -- Juan Pierre broke for second with nobody out in the seventh and the White Sox nursing a one-run lead during Saturday's 2-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. And the speedy leadoff man immediately knew he was in trouble.
"I saw that they pitched out, cause I peeked in because there were two strikes on [Alexei] Ramirez," Pierre said. "I was like, 'Oh [no],' because I was only half way when he was getting the ball.
"Then you see where it was and it was one of those ones, I can't even explain it, instincts just take over. You try and do anything you can to maneuver."
What Pierre did was use something akin to a swim move to get around the tag from Starlin Castro, on a throw from Geovany Soto easily beating Pierre to the bag. Pierre raised his left arm on the headfirst slide, avoided the Cubs shortstop's swipe and then grabbed second base for his Major League-leading 25th stolen base.
Two outs later, Paul Konerko's single to right brought home Pierre with what would be the deciding run. In previous career usages of this move, Pierre estimated he's been called out in seven of 10 attempts. But both Pierre and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen gave credit to second-base umpire Kerwin Danley for staying with the play and making the right call.
"Usually when the throw beats you, you are out," Pierre said. "The umpire was in good position to get the call right."
"That's big for the umpire," Guillen said. "The umpire did a tremendous job to keep his eyes on the tag."
Linebrink accepts current long role
CHICAGO -- When Scott Linebrink joined the White Sox via a four-year, $19 million deal prior to the 2008 season, he didn't sign up as the South Siders' long reliever.
Three seasons later, following Linebrink's one-third of an inning pitched in the ninth of Friday's 10-5 victory over the Cubs, that mopup role is exactly what Linebrink currently is fulfilling.
At this point, though, Linebrink is not complaining.
"I've talked with [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] about that," said Linebrink, who entered Saturday's action with a 5.47 ERA. "I think the attitude you have to have in the bullpen is there's no room for selfishness.
"There are guys who have filled that setup role right now that are very successful. For me to demand getting back in to that role, it would be selfish and take away from what we are trying to accomplish as a team.
"Right now, I'm just ready to pitch whenever the phone rings, trying to get outs and do whatever I can," Linebrink said. "If that's eating up innings, so be it. I know when you pitch well, everything has a way of taking care of itself."
One major positive for Linebrink is that his arm and shoulder feel great. His great disappointment of late is getting away from attacking the strike zone, which showed up via two walks on Friday, before White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen replaced him with Bobby Jenks.
"In that situation, you can't put anybody on base," Linebrink said. "But overall, my stuff feels, my arm feels great. That's what I'm thankful for and I've been getting the work."
With the White Sox trying to fight their way back into the American League Central race, Linebrink certainly isn't worried about his personal status for the last year of his contract in 2011. He expressed concern earlier in the season about being able to handle the extended workload of long relief, coming to the team as primarily a one-inning pitcher, but feels a bit more stretched out to handle the role.
"If I threw more than 20 pitches when I first came over, it really taxed me," Linebrink said. "Now, I feel like I'm in shape and capable of going a little bit longer. I feel really good and want to keep doing everything I can to maintain that health and answer the call whenever it comes."
Guillen enjoying Strasburg-mania
CHICAGO -- Rookie phenom Steven Strasburg hopes to follow up his 14-strikeout Major League debut with another stellar performance for Washington Sunday in Cleveland. But that first amazing effort was convincing enough for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to hand out major plaudits to the mega-talented right-hander.
"Just a great thing. We need that in baseball," said Guillen. "We need impact pitchers and impact players right now to make this game better. You know what? It shows scouts and Major League Baseball and people running this game, if you got good stuff and belong in the big leagues, then bring it to the big leagues.
"Why not? If you are going to suffer, suffer up here. [If you are] that good, I love that. I love impact players and good players. It was awesome about what happened with that kid. Hopefully, we don't have to wait 20 years to get our first-round picks here."
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham took a little less than one year to go from being the team's top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft to the team's starting third baseman on June 4, 2009. Strasburg was the top overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, also reaching the Majors in less than one year.
If the 2010 schedule holds to form, factoring in Monday's off-day for the Nationals, Strasburg will face the White Sox on June 19 in Washington, D.C., during Interleague action.
"I will be excited to see him pitch. I want to see the real thing," Guillen said. "Good pitchers on the mound bring people to the ballpark. God bless him. Hopefully, he stays healthy because we need people like this."
White Sox offense heating up
CHICAGO -- The 38 runs scored by the White Sox over their last five victories indicates some of the early-season slumps plaguing the team might be dissipating. It doesn't hurt that summer is fast approaching, although it was hard to tell from Saturday's cool conditions at Wrigley Field.
"That's the way it always happens," White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker said. "It's just common sense. The balls carry [in Chicago] when it's warm weather. We have better hitting in June, July and August. It always has been, and always will be."
"You definitely want to continue having good at-bats," said White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin, who launched a pinch-hit home run in Friday's 10-5 victory. "We are trying to make sure every time we look at the lineup, it's every batter is another person trying to keep things going."
Winning run could be under way
CHICAGO -- The first four-game winning streak for the White Sox has manager Ozzie Guillen hoping his team is beginning an extended run missing throughout the 2010 season.
"We can't be that bad for six months. Nobody does, not even very bad teams," Guillen said. "The way we are pitching right now and the way things are going our way, it feels that way. The players have a little bit of confidence back to themselves.
"Winning games and having big at-bats produces that positive back for the players. The way I saw them play Detroit, we win big and then we win a very close game. [Friday against the Cubs], we swung the bat better. I keep saying the product is out there. We just have to make it work."
Third to first
In Mark Buehrle's previous three starts, he struck out a grand total of seven. During his 2-1 victory over the Cubs on Saturday, Buehrle struck out seven. ... Paul Konerko's three hits extended his hitting streak at Wrigley Field to 17, the longest run by any active opponent. Konerko has reached base in 27 straight Interleague games and with two RBIs on Saturday, raised his Interleague RBI total to 131 and his total against the Cubs to 43. ... Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios all were hit by pitches in Saturday's victory.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.