video thumbnail

ARI@CWS: Konerko launches a two-run homer to left

CHICAGO -- The story of Arizona's 4-3 victory over the White Sox played before 24,634 at U.S. Cellular Field was Paul Konerko.

At least it was from the home team's side of the tale.

It could have been a storybook finish, the sort of heroic walk-off that the White Sox captain has played a lead role in many times before over his accomplished 16 years on the South Side of Chicago. Instead, with Alexei Ramirez representing the tying run at second and two outs in the ninth, Addison Reed retired Konerko on a ground ball to second baseman Aaron Hill.

And after Reed finished off his 11th save for the D-backs (14-25), the same young hurler who recorded 69 saves over the last two seasons for the White Sox (19-19) had nothing but effusive praise for his friend and former teammate.

"Best guy you'll ever meet. If there's any little kid that wants someone to look up to, it's definitely him," said Reed of Konerko. "There's not a better guy who's playing the game. I want to try to play the game like he does. I want people to look up to me like they do him. He's the best.

"No matter how much I respect him, I'm still trying to strike him out. But I got the groundout and we got out of here with the win."

While Konerko couldn't quite come through in the ninth, he kept the White Sox and Jose Quintana (1-3) in the game earlier. Arizona scored three runs on three hits in the top of the fifth, marking the only three runs allowed by Quintana, but Konerko answered in the bottom of the frame with a two-run blast to left off of Wade Miley (3-3).

That 383-foot drive became Konerko's first homer this season in just his eighth start (four at first base, four at designated hitter) and in his 37th at-bat. Konerko moved past Juan Gonzalez and Andruw Jones into sole possession of 43rd place on the all-time home run list with 435 and hit his 428th as a member of the White Sox. That lofty total leaves him 20 behind franchise leader Frank Thomas.

As Konerko becomes more accustomed to this part-time playing, full-time mentoring role, he has become more successful. Konerko is 9-for-22 over his last nine games, including his 59th career Interleague homer.

"It's always nice to get the first home run of the season no matter who you are or where you are at," Konerko said. "I've been swinging well and hitting some balls hard and you can't, in the role I'm in, you'd like to go in and do big things, but it's kind of that back and forth between not trying to do too much to where you totally get out of control but you would like to try to be in a good position to drive the ball. It's a balance between the two.

"When you are playing every day, you can play around with that a little more. When you are not playing as much, you kind of want to get as much as you can out of one game. You have to be careful with that because it can get you to some bad passes. I've been dealing pretty good with that. It was a real good swing. I was happy with it."

Saturday's White Sox script was similar to Friday's contest, with the first nine hitters being retired by Miley just as they were in the series opener by Brandon McCarthy.

A seven-run fourth followed on Friday, but Miley was able to keep the potent White Sox attack under control for seven innings. Gordon Beckham actually broke up the perfect game with a single to open the fourth, like Alejandro De Aza did Friday with a double, but Marcus Semien followed with a double-play grounder to shortstop Chris Owings.

Jose Abreu's strikeout looking ended the fourth with just 12 batters faced by Miley despite the hit.

"Their starter was really good, Miley. He pitched really well," White Sox bench coach and interim manager Mark Parent said. "He got on a roll and just continued. I kept waiting for us to get to him and it was a little bit too late."

Quintana was touched up for Alfredo Marte's double, A.J. Pollock's single and Martin Prado's sacrifice fly in the fifth. He threw 109 pitches over six innings, striking out five and walking one intentionally.

Seven of his eight starts have been quality, but Quintana only has received a 2.50 run support average over his last six starts and 36 innings.

"You know, I don't have control about that," said Quintana of his run support. "Every night the guys give me runs, but I don't win because the other pitcher is good too."

"We had a plan today, we were trying to attack the guy that was pitching for them because he was throwing a lot of strikes," Prado said. "We felt like we had to be aggressive with him because he commanded his pitches."

Trailing by two in the ninth, Ramirez drove home pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie with a two-out single after Gillaspie opened the inning with a single. Reed managed to strike out Abreu and Dayan Viciedo, and then got Konerko to block a big White Sox finish.

"Addison made good pitches there on me and that's that," Konerko said.

"If he got a base hit we were going to have a tie game," Reed said. "I was trying to keep it away to him and he hit one off the end of the bat to Hilly. It worked out."

MLB.com Comments