"I just didn't want to strike out," the Seattle shortstop said Monday night.
After swinging meekly at strike two in the 11th inning, Betancourt did much better than simply avoiding a whiff. He leaned at an outside, 0-2 pitch from Brandon McCarthy and flicked it into left field to score pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist and give the Mariners a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Seattle won for the first time in seven one-run games and denied Chicago its first nine-game winning streak since July 1977. The White Sox still share the major leagues' best record with Houston at 13-6.
The Mariners won for only the second time in seven games -- all at home.
"It's a great win," said Raul Ibanez, whose home run in the eighth off starter Jon Garland gave Seattle a 3-2 lead. "I don't know if it's so much a sigh of relief, but we came back and beat the world champions."
Chicago intentionally walked Jeremy Reed in front of Betancourt even though Reed was 2-for-16 the past week. Betancourt was 7-for-18 during the same span but only a .256 hitter in his first major league season last year.
"We thought our shot with Betancourt was better," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"I go with his gut feeling," McCarthy said. "In most situations, it works out."
Chicago tied the game with two outs in the ninth on No. 9 hitter Brian Anderson's homer off closer Eddie Guardado. Anderson was batting .167 in 15 games.
As the ball sailed away, Guardado yelled and threw his hands into his thighs.
It was his third straight poor outing. Guardado had previously allowed a game-winning homer at Boston on April 17 and had walked the bases loaded and then walked in the winning run last Thursday.
"Eddie is still our closer," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said - for the second time in five days.
"I don't know what to tell you, man," said Guardado, who saved 36 games in 41 chances last season but has allowed runs in five of seven appearances. "That one pitch is costing me. ... It's hurting everybody here."
Carl Everett hurt his former team by singling with one out in the 11th off McCarthy (1-1). Bloomquist then stole second, the utility man's major league-best 17th consecutive steal.
Betancourt, through a translator, called Bloomquist, "the best baserunner in the league."
"Best in the league? Wow, that's nice," Bloomquist said.
Throughout this month, Hargrove has pinch-hit slugger Roberto Petagine for Betancourt late in games. But with Bloomquist having just replaced designated hitter Everett, if Petagine had batted again for Betancourt, Bloomquist would have played a potential 12th inning at shortstop. By rule, a pitcher would then have had to enter the batting order -- something Hargrove said he didn't want to do.
The win went to Julio Mateo (2-0), who pitched a scoreless 11th.
The Mariners tied the score at 2 in the seventh on Ichiro Suzuki's 12th hit in 25 at-bats, a two-out single off Garland.
Otherwise, Garland gave Guillen what the manager said he was seeking before the game -- a return to Garland's 2005 form of 18 wins and a 3.50 ERA. Garland allowed eight hits in eight innings, including Jose Lopez's third home run in the first.
Seattle starter Jamie Moyer was even better. The 43-year-old lefty allowed Jim Thome's RBI single after Pablo Ozuna led off the game with a double -- and only three subsequent hits in seven innings. Moyer struck out five and walked one.
He would have left up 2-1 but for more mistakes by Rene Rivera.
Catching for the second straight day because Hargrove thinks Kenji Johjima has a sore left thumb, Rivera added to Sunday's costly miscues when he allowed a pitch to glance off his mitt in the second inning. His third passed ball in two games allowed Rob Mackowiak to score the go-ahead run.
Afterward, Hargrove said Johjima will play Tuesday.
Moyer remained winless in five starts -- his longest drought to start a season since 1991 -- despite a 3.45 ERA.
- Garland began the season by allowing 16 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. He has allowed four runs in his last 14 1/3 innings.
- Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski had three hits and is 10-for-18 in his last five games.
- Suzuki's average has climbed from .177 to .261 in six days.
- Ibanez singled, doubled and homered off Garland. He is 18-for-46 (.391) with two home runs in his career against him.