Castro hits 2 HRs and Konerko homers for 4th straight game as White Sox roll M's

CHICAGO -- Seven weeks ago, the Chicago White Sox wondered if they'd ever stop losing. These days, they're playing as if the winning will never end -- especially at home.

Ramon Castro homered twice and Paul Konerko went deep for the fourth straight game Thursday night, leading Chicago to its 11th consecutive home victory, 9-5 over the Seattle Mariners.

Since June 9, the AL Central-leading White Sox are 33-11 overall and 18-1 at home. Before the surge, they were 24-33 and 9½ games behind Minnesota. They are now 57-44 and 1½ games in front.

"It feels like that was another season ago," Konerko, the White Sox captain, said of the spring struggles. "It's remarkable. I've never been on a team that's turned things around so quickly, where we went from doing pretty much everything bad to everything good.

Carlos Quentin also homered for the White Sox, whose previous home winning streak of at least 11 games came in 1989 -- two years before they left old Comiskey Park for U.S. Cellular Field.

"We can't say, 'Hey, we're going to run the table.' We know we'll lose some more games at home," Konerko said. "There are no guarantees, but we're having fun with it."

Konerko's homer-per-game performance -- his only hits of the series -- helped the White Sox to their first four-game sweep of Seattle since 1994 and first at home since '83. Chicago went 9-1 against the Mariners this season, outscoring them 52-21.

"Whether it's our ballpark or this ballpark, the same formula works: You have to get ahead of hitters," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. "When you fall behind, especially a club as hot as this one, with their power potential, you'll start running into trouble. Konerko has had a heck of a year against us, with seven home runs. We just can't get him out."

It's not surprising when an All-Star such as Konerko produces. Castro? He's a backup catcher who rarely plays. Still, he's batting .400 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in his last 13 games.

"I know I'm a good defensive catcher, so I'm always in the batting cage trying to stay sharp," said Castro, who caught Mark Buehrle's 2009 perfect game. "I just want to win, whatever it takes."

It was Castro's second career two-homer game, the other coming in 2002 when he was with Florida. He also singled during Chicago's four-run third inning, the three hits tying his personal best.

Coming off his worst outing this season -- five runs in 1 1/3 innings -- Freddy Garcia (10-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings as the White Sox moved 13 games over .500 for the first time in two seasons.

Ichiro Suzuki tied a team record with three doubles and also scored three times for Seattle, which is 6-20 in July after ending June with nine wins in 12 games.

Casey Kotchman's RBI double and sacrifice fly gave Seattle a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the third, but David Pauley (0-3) was hit hard and didn't make it out of the inning.

Singles by Alexei Ramirez and Castro and a walk to Gordon Beckham loaded the bases for Juan Pierre, whose double down the left-field line tied the game. Beckham scored on Omar Vizquel's single and Pierre came home on a double play.

"I fell behind every hitter 2-0, sometimes 3-0 or 3-1," Pauley said. "To fall behind on a team like this, you're asking for defeat."

Castro's first-pitch homer off Chris Seddon in the fourth gave Chicago a 5-2 lead.

With one out in the sixth, Kotchman doubled, Franklin Gutierrez singled and Michael Saunders lined an RBI single. Garcia escaped the jam by getting Justin Smoak to pop out and striking out Josh Wilson.

In the sixth, Castro homered off Seddon again and Vizquel knocked in a run with his third single to make it 7-3.

Ichiro doubled home a run in the seventh off J.J. Putz and scored on a wild pitch. But Konerko and Quentin responded with consecutive homers off Garrett Olson in Chicago's half.

Putz's 27-appearance scoreless streak, a team record, was snapped.

Game notes
The White Sox have seven series sweeps, their most in a season since they took 12 in 2005, when they went on to win the World Series. ... Mariners DH Russell Branyan sat out with back spasms as a "precautionary day off," Wakamatsu said. Branyan had played the previous two games after missing most of two weeks. Wakamatsu also sat 3B Jose Lopez (tight left hamstring), OF Milton Bradley (knee stiffness) and DH Mike Sweeney (sore back), saying all three should play at Minnesota over the weekend.