CHICAGO, IL - JULY 04: Adam Dunn # 32 of the Chicago White Sox hits a two-run home run in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals on July 4, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\118191443.jpg
Updated: October 20, 2011 12:27AM
White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn had a feeling Sunday at Wrigley Field that things might be turning around for him.
‘‘[Sunday] at Wrigley Field, I felt as good as I had in a long time,’’ he said Monday. ‘‘And I was hoping it would carry over.’’
It did. Dunn hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the eighth inning against Kansas City Royals All-Star Aaron Crow that drew a curtain call. In the fourth, Dunn received a standing ovation with a mere single.
But with the score tied in the ninth, all Dunn had to do was stand in the batter’s box as Crow committed a balk with two outs and A.J. Pierzynski on third. It gave the Sox a 5-4 victory and put them back at the .500 mark.
‘‘I don’t remember one like that,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said of winning on a balk. ‘‘But I hope this is the break we catch. Coming back and winning this way gets your team pumped.’’
To a man, the Sox are hoping the same holds true for Dunn, whose struggles have been as painful for his teammates to watch as they have been for him to endure.
‘‘I was watching [in the clubhouse], and I about kissed the screen when that ball went out,’’
second baseman Gordon Beckham said of Dunn’s homer, his eighth of the season and 362nd of his career, moving him past Joe DiMaggio for 72nd on the all-time list.
‘‘Adam’s an incredible player, and everybody knows it. It’s just a matter of time before it comes out, and tonight it started coming out. It was a lot of fun for us as his teammates because we know what he goes through. He really has not had a bad attitude all year. He’s just gone through and taken it.’’
Dunn took extra batting practice early Monday with minor-league players, and he was the only left-handed hitter Guillen kept in the starting lineup against Royals lefty starter Jeff Francis.
‘‘At least we can say we’re trying to help him the best we can, provide him the best ammunition, whether at-bats or talk to him,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘We’ll continue to do that as long as he wants to make him better. We’ve done it before and it hasn’t worked, but hopefully it helps now.
‘‘If I didn’t care about him, I wouldn’t have him in my head. We care about all our players. That’s why we talk to him and try to help him.’’
Dunn joked of ‘‘almost forgetting’’ what it feels like to hit a homer — and perhaps what it feels like to be cheered.
‘‘That’s part of it,’’ said Dunn, who greeted his first ovation with a wave of his cap. ‘‘I promise you it’s a way better feeling than the other way. I appreciate that they stuck with [me]. They boo because they want to see a team play well, and that’s how I’ve been looking at it.’’
As important as the night was for Dunn, his revival is vital to the Sox’ division hopes.
‘‘I keep saying, I played in Chicago and I’ve been here for a little while,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘You need one big hit to put the crowd back in your pocket. And I think, hopefully, this is the beginning of a good start. Hopefully he continues to do that and forgets about what happened in the past.’’
The victory went to Sergio Santos (3-3), who blew the save by giving up a tying homer to Eric Hosmer on the first pitch of the ninth. Center fielder Alex Rios leaped at the wall, but the ball bounced just over his glove. The umpires needed a video review to make the call.
Mark Buehrle started and went seven innings, giving up a two-run homer in the first to Jeff Francoeur and another run in the third when Billy Butler drove in Mitch Maier, who had doubled.
‘‘I didn’t even see what happened, but it’s kind of the White Sox way,’’ Buehrle said of the walk-off balk. ‘‘We’ve got to take it any way we can.’’