SEATTLE — One Weaver already had stormed off the mound in bitter frustration Saturday night. The Seattle Mariners really didn’t need it to happen again.
Jeff Weaver and a mid-game awakening by the Mariners’ offense made sure it didn’t.
Weaver gave up five hits in 723 innings and retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced, and the Mariners scored all their runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings in a 7-5 victory Saturday night over the Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field.
It happened hours after Weaver’s younger brother, Jered, lost a game that gave the Mariners another chance to cut into the Angels’ lead in the American League West Division. Jered Weaver led 5-0 at Boston before giving up six runs in the fifth inning, including David Ortiz’s grand slam, in the Angels’10-5 loss to the Red Sox.
The Mariners are two games behind the division-leading Angels and also maintained their half-game margin over the Yankees atop the AL wild-card standings.
Oh, the personal conflict in the Weaver family.
“I always watch my brother and what he does,” Jeff Weaver said. “We support each other and we want to help each other any way we can, even though we’re in a division race here. It’s only one start out of five days, so hopefully they lose the other four.”
All that kept Saturday’s game from a cruise-control finish was Jim Thome.
He hit a solo home run in the first inning and a two-run homer in the eighth that cut the Mariners’ four-run lead in half. And in the sixth, it took Raul Ibanez’s leaping catch against the left-field wall to prevent what might have been another homer.
“I’m not sure if it would have gone out,” Ibanez said. “Yellow line (atop the wall), maybe. He’s got crazy strength and he hits the ball the highest and farthest of anyone.”
Thome’s two-homer game gave him 492 in his career.
Weaver showed his good stuff from the beginning, but solo homers by Thome in the first inning and A.J. Pierzynski in the fourth, plus Juan Uribe’s sacrifice fly in the second, helped the White Sox take a 3-0 lead.
Then Weaver barely wavered again, winning his second straight start against the White Sox after a complete game Sunday.
In the process, Weaver patiently waited for the Mariners’ hitters to figure out Chicago starter John Danks. That took a few innings, but the M’s popped him Saturday just as they did in Sunday’s 6-0 victory at Chicago.
Ibanez’s single drove home Jose Vidro in the fourth inning Ibanez’s 17th RBI this month for a 3-1 score. The Mariners tied it in the fifth when Jose Guillen drove in Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt with a single that took a high hop over third baseman Josh Fields.
Then the Mariners unloaded in the sixth, with some help from the White Sox.
Adrian Beltre led off with a single, and the White Sox pulled Danks to bring in sidearm right-hander Ehren Wassermann. Richie Sexson doubled and Kenji Johjima grounded a single up the middle, scoring Beltre. Jerry Owens fielded the ball in shallow center field and unleashed a strong throw toward the plate too strong.
The ball not only sailed over Pierzynski at the plate, it lodged behind a small opening in the netting above the padded backstop. Sexson also was waved home and Johjima to third. He scored when Vidro singled to right field, completing a four-run inning that made the score 7-3.
“In typical Mariners style, about the sixth inning we make things happen and give you a little cushion to go out there and continue to be aggressive,” Weaver said. “That’s the mentality us starting pitchers should take keep the game close and let our offense do their work late and give us a chance to win.”
The cushion came in hand in the eighth when Weaver walked Danny Richar and got the next two outs before McLaren brought in left-hander George Sherrill to face Thome.
Sherrill, who gave up a grand slam to the left-handed-hitting Richar on Friday to slice a five-run lead to one, suffered a similar fate this time. He fell behind 2-0 to Thome, who launched a high drive that barely cleared the center field fence and Ichiro Suzuki’s glove for a two-run homer that made it a two-run game.
Right-hander Sean Green replaced Sherrill, who tossed his glove into the stands as he reached the dugout steps.
Green struck out Jermaine Dye to end the top of the eighth, and closer J.J. Putz pitched around a one-out walk in the ninth to record his 36th save, tying his career high.