Backup plan works fine

Tribune staff reporter

As Brian Anderson gobbled up his eggs and cereal Monday morning, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told his rookie center fielder to enjoy his last meal.

"Before you go down," Guillen deadpanned.

That was mild compared with the answer reserve infielder Alex Cintron received after asking if he was going to play more after seeing his name in the lineup at second base.

"No," Guillen told him. "We're trying to make a trade."

Say this for the Sox: They know when to joke and when to get serious.

Instead of looking ahead to a visit to Florida, they took care of business in an efficient 7-3 victory over American League Central rival Minnesota.

"A big thing about this team is that when we lost three in a row, nobody panicked," said Chris Widger, one of three backups who contributed. He had three hits, including a home run. "In some places, you start seeing some finger-pointing, like the pitchers aren't doing it, the position players aren't doing it, we're not making plays.

"Everyone here understands that it's part of baseball. We understand that we have a pretty good team and if we don't panic and we prepare the way we should, everything is going to work out in the end."

Freddy Garcia, who endured some scrutiny after a rough start, equaled a career high with his sixth consecutive win. And Garcia never let up in what Guillen seriously described as a "big game" as the Sox extended their lead in the AL Central to one game over Detroit.

The normally calm Garcia (6-1) stalked around the mound after giving up a home run to Torii Hunter on a 1-2 pitch in the fourth. And Guillen visited the mound after Lew Ford easily stole second base in the seventh with the Sox holding a 6-2 lead.

Garcia kicked the Metrodome turf after Shannon Stewart hit a two-out bloop single that cut the Twins' deficit to three and caused Guillen to lift him in favor of Neal Cotts.

But, "we had the right guy out there," Guillen said of Garcia.

In splitting a four-game series with the Twins, the Sox (25-12) wiped out the sour taste from losses in the first two games. Even more encouraging was the manner in which once-struggling hitters have rebounded.

Scott Podsednik, who made a nice sliding catch in short left field to end the game, continued his climb at the plate with three hits, including a two-run home run that struck the top of the football bleachers in right field. Podsednik is batting .300 after starting the season 0-for-16.

"I don't want to get too detailed about it because I'm awfully superstitious," Podsednik said.

Rob Mackowiak, who climbed out of an 0-for-14 rut Saturday, started in right field in place of Jermaine Dye. He had his third three-hit game and was involved in two rallies.

"Ozzie has a knack for putting the right guys in the right situations," Mackowiak said.

And despite an 0-for-3 performance, Anderson was part of the traveling party to St. Petersburg for a three-game series against the Devil Rays.

Guillen said the only time he has been upset with Anderson occurred on May 2, when he hung his head after an at-bat in Cleveland when his batting average dropped to .141.

Since then, Anderson has raised his average 40 points.

And as part of his rookie hazing, Anderson "got" to wear a replica Florida Gators uniform, courtesy of A.J. Pierzynski.

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