CHICAGO (AP) -- Mark Prior was determined to stick around and finish what he started Sunday. And his pitch count was no big deal.
"Every once in a while you have to go up there to get it done," Prior said Sunday when he threw 126 pitches and finished with a six-hitter as the Cubs beat the White Sox 4-3 to avoid a three-game sweep."I haven't thrown that many pitches this year. It's probably the best I've felt. It was a nice warm day for a change," said Prior, who started the season on the disabled list with a sore elbow.It was also a windy day, as usual, at Wrigley Field.With the wind blowing out at 23 mph, three of the six hits Prior allowed were homers. And a three-run shot by his Cubs teammate Jason Dubois gave him a 4-2 cushion in the sixth.Paul Konerko homered in the ninth to cut the lead to 4-3 but Prior got a flyball and struck out Jermaine Dye -- who'd homered earlier --to end the game, pumping his fist in celebration.With closer Ryan Dempster warming up in the ninth, manager Dusty Baker stuck with Prior, despite his escalating pitch count."Mark said he wanted the game very badly. Then you give him the ball and throw pitch counts out the window unless it gets ridiculous," Baker said. "Another batter or two and we would've been approaching that, but Mark wanted the ball and that's what you want."Prior (4-1) got his first win since April 25, benefiting from two double plays. He struck out seven and walked one in his first complete game since August 15, 2003, against the Dodgers.Dubois' homer off reliever Luis Vizcaino (2-2) spoiled the major-league debut of White Sox rookie Brandon McCarthy, who'd been called up from Triple-A Charlotte when Orlando Hernandez was put on the disabled list Sunday.McCarthy and Prior met several years ago -- Prior is three years older at age 24 -- and have exchanged e-mails periodically."He wanted to learn how to get to the big leagues," Prior said. "He was just looking for advice on what to do at different phases of his career. He e-mailed me the other day and said he wouldn't be asking for advice since I was starting against him and I didn't e-mail him back. ... He'll be a big asset for that organization."At 6-foot-7 with an all-arms-and-legs delivery, McCarthy took a 2-1 lead into the sixth. And what a way to break in -- in the spirited interleague series."I always hoped to get called up. I didn't care against who," McCarthy said. "I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be."But after he hit Derrek Lee with a pitch and then retired Jeromy Burnitz on a flyball, he was quickly lifted by manager Ozzie Guillen and replaced by Vizcaino.McCarthy allowed just four hits and was charged with two runs in 5 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out six."I took him out because I'm the manager," an agitated Guillen said. "I have confidence in my bullpen. I wanted this kid to leave the mound with his head up and a chance to win a game at the big-league level."Vizcaino got Aramis Ramirez to fly out but then gave up a single to Corey Patterson before Dubois lifted a long drive to right-center for his fifth homer."I got lucky, got it up in the air and the wind helped it out a little bit," Dubois said.Dye's ninth homer and third of the series gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead in the fifth.McCarthy was bailed out by some shaky Cubs baserunning in the first after walking Lee with two outs. When Burnitz hit a liner past first, Lee hesitated at second and then had to stop at third, perhaps costing the Cubs a run as the ball bounded around in the
outfield after hitting a side wall. Ramirez then flied out to end the inning.Henry Blanco, batting .139 and filling in for sore-shouldered starter Michael Barrett, hit his second homer with two outs in the second to give Prior a 1-0 lead.After Prior retired the first 10 batters, Tadahito Iguchi hit a liner to right and with the aid of the wind it just climbed over the wall for his fourth homer, tying the game.A double by Aaron Rowand and walk to Konerko put runners at first and second in the fourth, but Lee leaped to snare A.J. Pierzynski's liner and threw to second to double off Rowand.
Lee's baserunning gaffe was his second in as many games. He was picked off first to end a late Cubs eighth-inning rally Saturday. Baker said Lee stopped at second because White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe told him Burnitz had hit a foul ball. ... Attendance was announced at 39,334. The three games attracted 117,783. ... McCarthy threw 78 pitches. ... The teams meet again June 24-26 at U.S. Cellular Field.