Homers carry White Sox to second win against KC
CHICAGO -- The 43-degree temperature and winds blowing from left to right at 11 mph at first pitch Wednesday didn't exactly scream home run derby at U.S. Cellular Field.
Luckily for the White Sox, their bats surpassed the cold expectations in a 5-2 victory against the Royals.
Four home runs, six strong innings from Jake Peavy and a collective relief escape act in the seventh inning made up for one of the shakiest defensive efforts in the Robin Ventura era. That combination gave the White Sox their third 2-0 start in the past nine years, joining teams from 2005 and '11.
And anyone who remembers the close-but-not-quite-good-enough effort from the South Siders a year ago understands that every game matters, regardless of the 160 still remaining on the schedule.
"Paul [Konerko] talks about that all the time," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who homered for the second time in as many games. "The games at the beginning, middle and end are all just as important."
"We found that out at the end of the year last year," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "You can't take these ones at the beginning for granted. We need to go out tomorrow and be just as ruthless as we've been."
Adam Dunn homered on a first-pitch fastball from Royals starter Ervin Santana to open the second inning, a titanic clout that covered 431 feet to right-center field. It was the 407th homer of Dunn's career, tying him with Duke Snider for 48th place on the all-time home run list.
Flowers hit a solo shot to start the third, and Dayan Viciedo delivered a two run-homer with two out in the fourth that hit off left fielder Alex Gordon's glove and fell into the White Sox bullpen. Alexei Ramirez added another homer to start the seventh off reliever Luke Hochevar, but Viciedo's shot -- the only homer not of the solo variety -- provided the decisive runs, and it barely made it.
"If it wasn't cold, and my glove wasn't stone hard, it might have stayed in," Gordon said of his near-miss attempt to rob Viciedo's drive. "But it just hit the tip of it and came out. I was right there in position, ready to make the play."
"We've got guys one through nine who can hit the ball out of the park," Dunn said. "I guess it doesn't really matter how you score runs, only that you score them."
The power punch made it easier to ignore three White Sox errors, one of which led to an unearned run against Peavy. Another created a tight spot for the bullpen in the top of the seventh.
Dewayne Wise replaced Viciedo in left field to start the seventh, after Viciedo allowed Alcides Escobar's two-out single to sneak under his glove in the third and let Chris Getz score from first. Viciedo and Ramirez also had a communication issue in the third on Getz's pop fly, which fell for an error charged to Ramirez.
Wise dropped the first ball hit his way -- a popup hit by Eric Hosmer off of reliever Jesse Crain -- for a two-base error after making a long run to get into position to make the catch. Lorenzo Cain's bloop single to right put runners on the corners, before Crain struck out Jeff Francoeur for the inning's first out.
Donnie Veal replaced Crain to face the left-handed hitting Getz, but instead walked right-handed pinch-hitter Miguel Tejada on four pitches to load the bases. Gordon hit a short fly to keep the bases loaded with two out, and Matt Lindstrom entered and escaped the inning by inducing a fly ball from Escobar.
"Again, we just picked each other up," Flowers said. "That's what good teams do, and that's what quality teams do."
"A bad team or a team without as much confidence or as tight as we are -- brothers, so to speak -- stuff can get away from you," said Peavy, who threw 76 of his 107 pitches for strikes. "We can get into the dugout and laugh it off and say, 'Let's go, and let it go.' And we did it numerous times today."
Peavy struck out five of the first six hitters he faced and ended with six strikeouts over six innings. He allowed four hits and did not issue a walk, ending a 0-6 run with a 5.56 ERA in his past seven starts against the Royals, and setting up an opportunity for a sweep Thursday.
It's a sweep that won't deflate a Kansas City team with lofty 2013 expectations, but certainly will do nothing but help the White Sox cause against an American League Central rival.
"They're a good team, and I think they're going to be there all year," said Konerko, whose sixth-inning double gave him 2,136 hits with the White Sox and tied him with Frank Thomas for third place in franchise history. "I don't read too much into it other than it's two in the books, and you can't get those back. There's two we don't have to play against them. Put them in the win column and move on."