Brent Lillibridge on attack as White Sox sweep Red Sox
By DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org June 1, 2011 8:04PM
Brent Lillibridge, who had an RBI double and a homer in the White Sox' victory Wednesday at Fenway Park, greets Paul Konerko after his two-run homer in the ninth. | Elsa~Getty Images
Updated: September 11, 2011 12:22AM
BOSTON — Fearless Brent Lillibridge looked the Green Monster in the eye and didn’t blink. The little White Sox that could took one swing, then another, before conquering the Monster in a 7-4 victory Wednesday that gave the White Sox a series sweep.
‘‘It was cool,’’ said Lillibridge, who doubled and homered off knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. ‘‘This is a fun place to play, and I took advantage of the short wall.’’
Lillibridge, who has contributed numerous big hits and big plays in the field this season, barely resembles the player he was last season, even though he had his share of clutch pinch hits in 2010.
‘‘When I’m up there, I’m not playing with fear,’’ said Lillibridge, whose new approach to hitting after he
almost didn’t make the team out of spring training has helped him hit six homers and drive in 11 runs in a utility role. ‘‘In the past I just wanted to look good. I wanted to have good at-bats rather than hit the ball hard. Now I go up wanting to hit the ball really hard up the middle if it’s around the plate.’’
Lillibridge, giving Alex Rios a day off in center, doubled in a run and homered with no runners on, and Paul Konerko had three hits, including the game’s big blast, a two-run homer in the ninth that padded a one-run lead.
‘‘Mechanics are big part of it, and the work with [hitting coaches Greg Walker and Mike Gellinger], but for the most part it’s the mental side of it,’’ said Lillibridge, who’s batting .308 after hitting .224 last season. ‘‘It’s helped me not miss pitches and have some success these first two months. I’m really happy with where I’m at.’’
The Sox are happier where they are, too, after the three-game sweep left them 5-5 on a road trip. They’ve won six straight at Fenway Park going back to last season. After today’s day off, they open a 10-game homestand Friday against the Detroit Tigers.
‘‘Guys started feeling a little bit about how good we are,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. ‘‘You see it in the dugout, like [pitcher Jake] Peavy is screaming around. That’s fun to see guys get excited, when they know they can fight back.
‘‘It wasn’t like three weeks ago or four weeks ago — down 3-0 and pack it in. Right now, those guys
believe they can score some runs.’’
Right-hander Gavin Floyd (6-5) recovered after a shaky start. The Red Sox popped him for three runs in the second on doubles by David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie and a two-run single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but Floyd soon settled into a roll in which he retired 10 consecutive hitters and 11 of 12 before Ortiz hit an opposite-field home run over
the Green Monster in the sixth that tied it 4-4.
In a two-run fifth that knotted the score at 3, the Sox caught a break when Juan Pierre, caught in a rundown between first and second after a pitchout, avoided an out. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia appeared to make a swipe tag, but Pierre was called safe by second-base umpire Marty Foster. Ramon Castro, who held his ground at third, then scored on a groundout by Alexei Ramirez, and Pierre scored on a double by Carlos Quentin.
After missing a home run over the Green Monster by a couple of feet and settling for his RBI double in the fourth, Lillibridge cleared it in the sixth to give the Sox a 4-3 lead.
Chris Sale made his fourth straight scoreless appearance, and Sergio Santos pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save.
‘‘Everybody dug in and [came] to play and get good at-bats all this week,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘They fight. We [were] down 3-0 in the first inning, and we come back little by little and take the lead. The pitchers continue to throw the ball pretty good. Gavin turned it around and pitched a hell of a ballgame. Sale, he’s back on track. To win this thing against these people here, you have to put everything together and play good.’’