video thumbnail

CWS@KC: Konerko lifts a two-run dinger for the lead

KANSAS CITY -- For one night, White Sox fans got a glimpse of vintage Paul Konerko.

Konerko, who entered the night batting just .192, smacked a go-ahead two-run home run in Chicago's 7-6 comeback win over the Royals on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The White Sox clawed back from a 5-0 first-inning deficit thanks to three home runs off Royals starter Jason Vargas and five shutout innings from the bullpen.

Konerko's blast proved to be the most significant, as the designated hitter gave Chicago the lead in the fifth for good.

"I certainly didn't think it was going to be a home run, it didn't feel that good," Konerko said. "With this ballpark, I think the wind was probably helping a little bit, because I've hit balls way better than that that haven't gone out."

A wild ninth inning capped off a strange game. Matt Lindstrom came on to preserve the White Sox 7-6 lead, but he instantly ran into trouble when Nori Aoki singled to lead off the inning. Alcides Escobar laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson, but when Lindstrom charged, he came up limping after a few steps and the ball trickled between his legs.

Lindstrom hobbled around the mound with teammates, the trainer and manger Robin Ventura surrounding him, before being pulled for Scott Downs.

Downs struck out Eric Hosmer for the first out, and then Ventura summoned righty Jake Petricka from the bullpen to deal with Billy Butler.

Petricka and second baseman Gordon Beckham caught Dyson breaking for third before the second pitch and picked him off for the second out.

Three pitches later, Butler grounded out to Beckham to end the game.

Ventura applauded Petricka, who earned his first career save, saying he never planned on using him.

"He wasn't scheduled to come in, but after Lindy was hurt, the situation that you're in just felt like it was better to get him in there right away knowing Butler was up next and Jake has been pretty good at getting ground balls," Ventura said.

Alexei Ramirez, batting third for the first time this season, launched a three-run home run in the third to spark the comeback, and Dayan Viciedo added a solo homer in the fourth.

White Sox starter Scott Carroll's homecoming was not pleasant. The righty, who grew up in nearby Liberty, Mo., gave up six runs and nine hits in four innings. Relievers Zach Putnam and Ronald Belisario each tossed a pair of shutout innings from the fifth to the eighth.

"They've been doing that for a long time now," Ventura said. "Getting multiple innings ... they've been great."

The first inning offered stark contrasts for Carroll and Vargas.

Vargas breezed through the first, using only six pitches to induce two weak groundouts and a lazy fly ball.

Carroll was in hot water from the opening hitter.

Aoki and Escobar opened up the frame with singles. Hosmer tattooed a 2-0 fastball off the right-field wall for a two-run double. Butler extended his first-inning RBI single streak to three games, putting the third run on the board. Three batters later, Lorenzo Cain lined a two-run single up the middle to make the score 5-0. The first five batters in the game scored, while Carroll allowed five hits and one walk and used 40 pitches in the inning.

"I was making good pitches in the first inning -- that wasn't the thing that was the concern -- I just needed to be more efficient," Carroll said. "When you're a sinkerball pitcher like I am, there's times when you're making good pitches but they're finding holes in the infield, and it just happened to be the case."

After an impatient first, Chicago changed its approach at the plate in the next two innings. The White Sox forced Vargas to throw 42 pitches over the second and third innings, and Ramirez struck with a three-run homer.

Ramirez -- who was retired on one pitch in his first at-bat, giving Vargas the six-pitch inning -- worked the count to 2-2, laying off a changeup in the dirt on the fourth pitch. Vargas returned to the changeup, and Ramirez deposited it into the Royals' bullpen to cut the deficit to 5-3. With six home runs, Ramirez has already matched his 2013 total.

Chicago came back to the long ball in the fourth. Viciedo launched a home run to nearly the exact spot Ramirez went deep and on the same low changeup from Vargas.

Kansas City answered with a run in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Hosmer, his third RBI of the game.

After the Viciedo homer, Vargas finished the fourth inning by striking out the final three batters, but his success stopped there.

Adam Eaton led off the fifth with a single, and Beckham followed with a hit of his own but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. Ramirez drove in his fourth run with a grounder to first that scored Eaton to make the score 6-5.

Adam Dunn kept the inning alive with a two-out walk, and then Konerko smashed Chicago's third home run of the night to give the White Sox a 7-6 lead.

Both teams' starting pitchers exited before completing five innings.

MLB.com Comments