Three Sox homers beat Tigers 6-1, boost division lead to 3 games
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com September 10, 2012 10:30PM
Updated: October 12, 2012 6:15AM
As 2012 White Sox signature moments go, Alex Rios’ three-run homer against the Detroit Tigers’ Rick Porcello in the sixth inning of their 6-1 victory Monday night will easily land on the top 10 list.
‘‘A huge swing by Alex Rios,’’ second baseman Gordon Beckham said.
As breakout moments go, rookie Jose Quintana’s pitching performance will be No. 1.
‘‘This was probably the biggest game he ever pitched in his life,’’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. ‘‘It was fun to kind of watch him grow up in front of your eyes.’’
It was more than fun for the Sox and most of the 30,287 fans at U.S. Cellular Field to watch Rios’ 23rd homer of the season fly over the left-field wall because, in a victory that increased the American League Central Division-leading Sox’ lead to three games over the Tigers, it came after a frustrated Sox lineup had gone 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. With the crowd still buzzing over Rios’s homer, Pierzynski followed it with a blast over the center-field wall to give Quintana a 4-1 lead.
‘‘As soon as he hit that ball, you could see the dugout, the crowd, the whole stadium breathe a sigh of relief,’’ Pierzynski said.
Beckham’s 14th homer, which tied his career high, came with Alexei Ramirez on second in the ninth and gave closer Addison Reed some welcome breathing room in a non-save situation. Reed pitched a perfect ninth, and the Sox nailed down their first win after seven straight losses to the Tigers, who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games and have fallen seven times in a row on the road.
It didn’t look like Quintana (6-4) would be the winner when he was escaping trouble during the first three innings, but he turned his fortunes around when Miguel Cabrera hit into a double play with two runners on before he struck out Prince Fielder to end the third.
‘‘As soon as he got that double play, he settled down,’’ Pierzynski said. ‘‘It was the biggest play of the game. He’s probably the best hitter in baseball right now. You could see Q’s confidence grow, and you kind of see the team’s confidence grow. All year, that one [hard-hit ball by Cabrera] is just kind of out of our reach.’’
Quintana retired 16 of the last 18 Tigers he faced, leaving to a standing ovation after he walked Ryan Raburn in the eighth with two outs.
After righty Brian Omogrosso gave up a double to Cabrera, lefty Donnie Veal got Fielder to ground out to Beckham to end the eighth. Lefties are 0-for-19 against Veal.
‘‘He’s more of a prototype lefty specialist than Matt [Thornton],’’ Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘Matty’s more of a power pitcher. Donnie just gives us that little edge of having a guy that comes in in nasty situations, and tonight was one of those, and he’s been coming through.’’
Quintana came through after not getting past the fourth inning in his last two starts.
‘‘Quintana has a lot of guts,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He’s a very tough kid.’’
This Sox victory was the difference in having a three-game lead with three to go against the Tigers or being one game ahead against a team that has owned them.
‘‘After the way things have gone against these guys, the first one was huge,’’ Pierzynski said. ‘‘Just to show everybody, ‘Hey, we can win against these guys.’ To win with pitching, defense and big hits was huge. Rios’ hit was just gigantic because there had been so much pressure on everybody trying to get hits with runners on third and less than two outs. It seemed to take the weight of the world off our shoulders.’’