White Sox’ Kevin Youkilis gets in another zinger with dinger
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com July 17, 2012 11:32PM
Kevin Youkilis hits a three-run home run off left-hander Jon Lester in the fourth inning. | Steven Senne~AP
Updated: August 19, 2012 6:32AM
BOSTON — Can Kevin Youkilis’ week be any better?
A night after reacquainting himself with adoring fans who applauded and “Youuuked” his every move, the White Sox third baseman reacquainted himself with Fenway Park’s Green Monster, clearing it for a three-run home run Tuesday night against left-hander Jon Lester in a 7-5 victory.
Youkilis connected in the fourth inning with Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham on second and third. It looked as though Lester was issuing a semi-intentional walk, running the count to 3-0 with left-handed-hitting Adam Dunn on deck, but he took it to 3-2 before Youkilis hit his fourth homer since the Red Sox traded him June 24.
“He’s showing off now,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s rising to the occasion for us in big spots.’’
The home run, his first as a visitor after hitting 65 at Fenway as a Red Sox player, was a “take that, Bobby V” moment captured by TV cameras that zoomed in on manager Bobby Valentine, who more or less set the stage for getting Youkilis shipped out of Boston by saying Youkilis was not “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.”
“When you get traded, there’s something to prove, and that all goes into it,’’ Ventura said. “Not that he says anything. It’s nice for him to get in those situations and come through.’’
On Monday, Youkilis received standing ovations and a video tribute while scoring the Sox’ only run on a heads-up play when he scored from first on a ground out. He also hit two doubles.
The only thing lacking for a perfect night, he said, was a Sox victory, which he got Tuesday thanks in part to right-hander Philip Humber’s six strong innings in his return from the disabled list. Humber exited with a 7-2 lead.
“It’s a great win, and that’s the key,’’ Youkilis said. “We’re trying to win, and we’re in the playoff race, and that’s what it’s all about.
“The fans have been unbelievable, and I can’t thank them enough and all the kind things they keep saying every day, every inning. Not too many opponents get to come in here and have that opportunity.’’
Youkilis, who received another standing ovation when he stepped up to bat in the first inning Tuesday, collected his 16th, 17th and 18th RBI in his 18th game with the White Sox to give Humber (4-4) a 6-2 lead.
With John Danks on the DL and Gavin Floyd joining him Tuesday with elbow tendinitis, Humber’s return was a shot in the arm for a rotation that needs yet another rookie, left-hander Pedro Hernandez, from Class AAA Charlotte for a spot start Wednesday. Rookie Jhan Marinez was returned after the game to make room.
After giving up two runs on singles to Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the first, Humber finished with five scoreless innings, allowing three hits in that span. He walked none and struck out three in a 104-pitch effort.
“That’s a big one,’’ Ventura said.
The elbow “feels good,’’ Humber said. “It was a good test. I made some pressure pitches in a couple of innings and held up pretty good.’’
Leadoff man Alejandro De Aza drove in two runs with a double and a single, and Paul Konerko poked two hits inside the first-base line for an RBI double and a single. Alex Rios had two singles and an RBI and ended the game with a running catch of Ellsbury’s liner to right-center.
The Red Sox scored three in the eighth against Matt Thornton, two on Kelly Shoppach’s pinch homer, forcing Ventura to use closer Addison Reed in the ninth. Reed pitched a perfect inning for his 15th save in 17 opportunities.
The Sox (50-40) won for the eighth time in 11 games and are 10 games above .500 for the fourth time.