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Graham Godfrey no gimmie for wary White Sox

Paul Konerko celebrates his two-run homer off A’s rookie Graham Godfrey first inning Friday night U.S. Cellular Field. | Jonathan

Paul Konerko celebrates his two-run homer off A’s rookie Graham Godfrey in the first inning Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: September 24, 2011 12:23AM

The White Sox don’t have a good history against pitchers they have never faced, something manager Ozzie Guillen had in mind Friday night before Oakland Athletics starter Graham Godfrey made his major-league debut.

‘‘You’re in the big leagues for a reason,’’ Guillen said.

Godfrey, who pitched 41/3 innings and wound up with a no-decision after allowing nine hits and earned five runs, including Paul Konerko’s two-run homer in the first inning, was promoted by the Athletics after going 7-1 with a 2.32 ERA in 10 minor-league starts at Class AA and Class AAA. He was leading the Pacific Coast League in ERA at
2.50 and was tied for the league lead in victories.

‘‘It’s tough sometimes because you don’t know how they’re going to come out,’’ said Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, who struck out in his first at-bat against Godfrey. ‘‘Are they going to be erratic and walk some guys and not be around the plate? Are they going to be all over the plate? It’s probably a great day for him, and hopefully he has a lot of fun but he gets
the loss.’’

Godfrey was only one of the things different about the Athletics since the last time the Sox hosted them in early April, when the teams split a four-game series. Manager Bob Geren was fired Wednesday and replaced by Bob Melvin for the start of this series.

Balancing act

Guillen said he felt bad for struggling Adam Dunn when he was hit by a pitch in the second inning Thursday and the crowd applauded his reaching base.

‘‘How are you gonna be happy when somebody gets hit? That’s hard to take,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘Fans want to see him produce. To play this game, you’ve got to have a thick skin and make sure you prepare mentally to overcome and survive this game.’’

Dunn went 1-for-3 on Friday with a walk and an RBI single in the Sox’ three-run fifth. Guillen said he keeps reminding Dunn, Alex Rios and other players who go through rough stretches that the game evens out over a season.

‘‘If you are a .250 hitter, you will be hitting .250 or .260 in September or October,’’ he said. ‘‘You will find a way to even up with your numbers. . . . You start bad, you finish strong. You start very good, it always will even up. That’s the way to look at it.

‘‘We always worry about the guys not producing. That’s the way it should be. [Other] coaches and managers always love the guy who’s playing good. And they turn their back on the guys not producing. Here, I think my coaches and myself kind of do it a little different. We try to protect the guy not playing well.’’

Guillen gave Rios and Dunn days off this week but repeated he doesn’t believe in benching struggling players. Rios went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI single Friday.

‘‘You just let them play and make sure those guys know you’re behind them no matter what happens,’’ he said. ‘‘I have faith, and I know [Dunn] is a better hitter than what he shows right now.

‘‘Can you imagine if those guys were doing half of what they could? We’d be in great shape.’’

Swinging into June

The Sox hit .234 as a team the first month of the season. Entering Friday, they were hitting .280 since May 7, second highest in the majors behind the Boston Red Sox (.295). They also were second in on-base percentage (.346) and tied for third in doubles (64) and runs scored.

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