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Weaver super cool in win over Sox

Weaver super cool in win over Sox

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CHICAGO -- Sunday was hot. So hot, in fact, that Jeff Weaver requested the Mariners wear their batting practice jerseys during the game in an effort to stave off the humid, 85-degree heat.

The way he pitched, though, not much could have cooled him down.

Weaver tossed a five-hit complete-game shutout and was backed by plenty of run support, and the Mariners took Sunday's rubber match, 6-0, over the White Sox in front of 36,629 fans at U.S. Cellular Field. It was Weaver's seventh career complete-game shutout, and his second this season.

Richie Sexson, Raul Ibanez and Jose Guillen all homered for the Mariners, who remained in a virtual tie with the Yankees in the American League Wild Card race. Cleveland, who lost to the Yankees on Sunday, dropped from first in the AL Central to 1 1/2 games behind the Mariners.

Weaver effectively mixed his pitches throughout the game, striking out eight while mostly staying out of trouble. The only rough spot came in the first inning, when Jim Thome rocketed a ball to center that was mere inches away from being a home run.

Weaver then retired the next two batters, and that was as close as the White Sox would get to scoring for quite some time, as he retired 23 of the final 27 batters he faced.

"He was masterful, in control the whole game," said manager John McLaren. "He mixed his pitches, his velocity was consistent. They were looking for one pitch and he threw another."

The Mariners have now won five of their last six games, all on the road. They swept the Orioles in a three-game series before taking two of three from the Sox.

Seattle donned its dark blue batting practice jerseys thanks to Weaver, who wanted to stay as cool as possible while pitching.

He ran it by some of the guys in the clubhouse before the game, and, after receiving clearance, decided the lighter material was the way to go.

"I put on the gray [uniform], and it felt kind of heavy today, so I asked if we could use the BP jerseys," Weaver said. "It's a lot lighter jersey, and it doesn't collect as much sweat, so it worked out well."

Not just for him, either.

The Mariners' offense came storming out of the gate, and scored two runs in two of the game's first three innings. Guillen's long ball in the fifth put Seattle up 6-0, which was more than enough for Weaver to hold down.

Sexson finished the game 2-for-4 with one home run, and ended up finishing the series 5-for-13. He, too, was a fan of the cooler uniforms.

"It was a great call," Sexson said of the decision to wear the batting practice uniforms. "It's extremely hot. It was nice to have those on."

With plenty of run support in hand, Weaver buckled down and attacked Chicago's lineup, a strategy that put him in control throughout the game.

"When your offense comes out and scores runs early, it takes the pressure off [of] you where you can go and pound the strike zone early and let their aggressiveness come into play," Weaver said. "I was able to throw my offspeed effectively today to keep them off-balance."

The game wore on, but his arm never wore out.

"It was weird because one through nine [innings], everything was the same," said catcher Jamie Burke. "It didn't seem like he was losing anything on his cutter or slider."

He also found an answer for Chicago's Josh Fields, who had hit three home runs in two games entering Sunday. Fields was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the game.

Moreover, Weaver tossed the complete-game shutout in a venue that is much more hitter-friendly than anything else. He consistently challenged some of Chicago's top hitters, and walked away virtually unscathed every time.

"I've pitched here quite a few times, and it's always a struggle," Weaver said. "These guys are very potent, pretty much everyone in that lineup can hit it out of the yard, and like I said, the offense gave me a little leeway to continue to stay aggressive."

Weaver will face the White Sox in his next start too, this time in Seattle, where the weather will most likely be cooler and much less humid.

After earning his first win against the White Sox since 2001, though, it may not be out of the question for Weaver to make a similar request next time out. Sure, it will be cooler outside, but if it keeps the heat up on the mound, he may just go with it.

Especially if it continues to keep the red-hot pitcher cool.

"I might have to talk to see if we can keep it rolling," Weaver quipped. "Whatever works, right?"

Patrick Brown 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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