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White Sox win as Adam Dunn blasts homer in rare start in left

Adam Dunn watches his solo shot eighth inning thgave Sox 4-1 lead against Cardinals Tuesday. | tom gannam~ap

Adam Dunn watches his solo shot in the eighth inning that gave the Sox a 4-1 lead against the Cardinals on Tuesday. | tom gannam~ap

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Updated: July 14, 2012 6:43AM

ST. LOUIS — Adam Dunn likes getting out once in a while. Out of the dugout and onto the field, that is, an opportunity he enjoys when the White Sox play in a National League ballpark.

“It’s fun to be out there running around a little bit,’’ he said before playing left field and launching his 21st home run — a 436-footer to right against left-hander Marc Rzepczynski — in the Sox’ 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

But it’s Dunn’s adjustment to staying in — as the designated hitter — in his second year on the job that has made baseball fun again for one of the game’s most prolific home-run hitters. He already has 10 more homers than last season, his first in the American League and his first as a DH.

“Routine is the biggest thing,’’ Dunn said. “Last year I was tinkering with so much . . . stuff. I didn’t really have time to get into a routine. Every at-bat I was going up there trying to fix something. This year I’ve stuck to the same routine. It doesn’t feel like I’m pinch-hitting four or five times a game. I’m ready. I’ve got a lather going when I get up there.’’

Dunn, whose career high for homers is 46 in 2004 with the Cincinnati Reds, is on pace for a franchise-record 56 homers. Only Frank Thomas (46th game in 1994 and 59th in ’95), Jim Thome (49th in ’06) and Jermaine Dye (59th in ’06) have reached 20 home runs faster among Sox.

Dunn’s DH routine involves taking about 15 swings with hitting coach Jeff Manto early in the game, utilizing one of four drills. During lengthy innings, he’ll do medicine-ball or wall series core exercises or ride an exercise bike for 10 minutes.

All of which has helped him go from the first notch to the second in the game belt Kosuke Fukudome gave him during spring training.

“I’ve dropped a few more pounds, I don’t know how much,’’ Dunn said. “I go by the belt. I know how I feel. I’m the kind of guy who can gain 10 pounds in two days and lose it in two and never notice.’’

The only member of the Sox who has played in every game, Dunn stayed active in left field as the Sox opened a six-game NL road trip that continues in Los Angeles. The 6-6, 285-pounder caught Yadier Molina’s sinking liner in the first and ran down Molina’s gapper in the third, getting the ball in fast enough to make Molina slide into second.

Dunn’s homer, which gave the Sox a 4-1 lead, came in a four-run eighth that also included A.J. Pierzynski’s two-run homer, his 11th.

The Sox led 2-0 on Orlando Hudson’s two-out, two-run triple off the glove of right fielder Carlos Beltran near the wall. It scored Pierzynski (3-for-4) and Alex Rios, who would have hit into a double play if not for a bobble by third baseman David Freese.

The Sox’ defense behind Jose Quintana (2-1) was much tighter. Middle infielders Gordon Beckham (RBI single) and Alexei Ramirez turned three double plays, two for Quintana and one for Nate Jones to end the sixth.

The Sox (34-27) increased their lead in the AL Central to 11/2 games over the Cleveland Indians, who lost to the Reds. They won for the eighth consecutive time on the road, improving to 18-9 as the visitors.

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