Konerko caps White Sox’s rally from 5 down
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko simply scoffed when he was asked to summarize in a paragraph Monday night’s wild 7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
“I don’t know if a paragraph is enough,” he said.
Well, first came the five-run lead the Royals established in the first inning. Then a frantic comeback by Chicago, capped by Konerko’s two-run homer. And finally, clutch pitching by relievers Scott Downs and Jake Petricka to save the series-opening win.
All in a nice, tidy paragraph.
“We got behind big early, like a lot of games here in the past,” Konerko said. “But guys started taking pride in their at-bats, and we started to chip away.”
Alexei Ramirez homered and drove in four runs, and Dayan Viciedo went deep before Konerko — starting in place of injured slugger Jose Abreu — hit his go-ahead homer in the fifth.
Zach Putnam (2-0) worked two shutout innings in relief of Scott Carroll, and Ronald Belisario threw two scoreless innings before Downs and Petricka bailed out Matt Lindstrom.
Lindstrom, normally the White Sox closer, gave up a leadoff single to Norichika Aoki in the ninth, then appeared to step awkwardly fielding a sacrifice bunt by Alcides Escobar that resulted in an error. Downs entered and struck out Eric Hosmer, and then Petricka picked off pinch runner Jarrod Dyson at second base before getting Billy Butler on a groundout for his first save.
“The bullpen was great. They just continue to shine,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who was still awaiting word after the game on the severity of Lindstrom’s right ankle injury.
“It didn’t look good,” he said.
Jason Vargas (4-2) squandered the rare five-run lead the Royals’ pop-gun offense gave him. He allowed all seven White Sox runs in 4 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
“I don’t get too mad about a lot of things, but given a five-run lead in the first inning and coughing it up halfway through the fifth inning — that’s not good enough to get it done,” he said.
Carroll, who grew up just north of Kauffman Stadium in Liberty, had a rude homecoming for the White Sox. He allowed the first five batters he faced to reach base, failed to get an out on his first 30 pitches and trailed 5-0 by the second inning.
“I was making good pitches,” he said, “and they were just finding holes.”
The White Sox got three runs back in the third, when Ramirez hit a 2-2 pitch for his sixth homer, matching his total from last year. They got another back in the fourth, when Viciedo sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall to make it 5-4.
Kansas City scraped out a run in the bottom half on Hosmer’s RBI single, but the White Sox completed their comeback during a messy fifth inning that ended with Vargas on the bench.
It began with a single by Adam Eaton and another by Gordon Beckham, who was thrown out trying to reach second. Ramirez made it 6-5 with a groundout but apparently thought he was safe as he was tagged sliding past the bag. Replays showed he missed the base by about 2 feet.
It turned out to be a moot point. Adam Dunn walked moments later, and Konerko followed with Chicago’s third homer in three innings, a two-run shot that gave the White Sox the lead.
That was it for Vargas, who had been on a roll coming into the game. He won his previous two starts and held high-powered Colorado to two runs in a 3-2 victory his last time out.
“It’s just a tough one,” Butler said. “We had that big first and then we tacked on a run and Konerko hits a home run to put them ahead. You feel like at that point, that’s not going to win the game, that there is going to be more scoring. Give their bullpen credit; they came in and did a great job.”
*Photo courtesy of Ed Zurga/Getty Images