CHICAGO (AP) — Alejandro De Aza simply wanted to put the ball in the air. Knocking it out of the park was a nice added bonus.
De Aza capped a six-run sixth with a grand slam after Paul Konerko and Alex Rios started the inning with back-to-back homers, leading the Chicago White Sox to an 11-8 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo also went deep as the White Sox won for the sixth time in seven games.
“It’s one night, but just the way they’re swinging it, you could see it sort of coming over the weekend,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Just the intensity and the quality of at-bats that we were having, that’s the thing that keeps it going is everyone continues to do that and grind out at-bats. That’s what they were doing tonight. They were late in the counts and still putting on good swings.”
Konerko had two hits and drove in two runs. Rios also had two hits and knocked in three, and Chicago pulled this one out even though Philip Humber couldn’t protect an early 4-1 lead.
The Twins knocked him out during a four-run fifth, sending 10 batters to the plate. Joe Mauer homered in the inning and Brian Dozier capped the rally with a two-run single to give Minnesota a 5-4 lead, but the debuting Cole De Vries couldn’t hold it.
Konerko and Rios chased him with back-to-back homers to left leading off the sixth, putting Chicago back on top, and the White Sox kept pouring it on from there.
They loaded the bases with one out against Brian Duensing before De Aza, who had an earlier homer wiped out by instant replay, drove a 1-0 pitch over the right-field bullpen to make it 10-5. The grand slam was the first of his career and the first by the White Sox since Rios hit one against Cleveland on Sept. 10, 2011.
“I was trying to get a fly ball because it was bases loaded,” De Aza said. “And the fly ball got big, you know.”
The big rally made a winner of Nate Jones (2-0), who allowed two hits over 1 2-3 innings. He came in for Humber in the fifth and immediately gave up that two-run single by Dozier, but the White Sox came out on top, anyway.
They had their way with De Vries (0-1), who grew up near Minneapolis and played for the University of Minnesota.
“I was pretty good in the bullpen,” he said. “I got out there and it was like someone flipped the light switch and the butterflies started going a little bit. After that, it dropped, then went back up. It was a rollercoaster night.”
The 27-year-old right-hander gave up six runs — three earned — and six hits.
He was shaky right from the start. Pierzynski drove a solo homer off the right-field pole in the second and the White Sox added to their lead in the third after Alexi Casilla booted De Aza’s grounder to second with one out. Konerko extended his hitting streak to 10 with an RBI single, and Rios added a two-run double to make it 4-1.
But what looked like an easy evening took a difficult turn. Humber still hasn’t won since his perfect game against Seattle on April 21 and the right-hander is 0-2 in his last six starts after allowing five runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.
“I haven’t felt like I’ve really been in sync probably for awhile now,” he said.
Humber said he’s not finishing his pitches. But the question is: Why?
“I’ve got to figure out what’s going on,” he said. “There’s a lot of feel that goes on as a pitcher.”
NOTES: Justin Morneau hit two late homers for Minnesota — a leadoff homer against Will Ohman in the seventh and a two-run drive against Addison Reed in the ninth. … Throwing off the mound and from the stretch, Snoop Dogg delivered the first pitch. The rapper was in the area for a concert. … Asked his favorite Snoop song, Ventura said, “I don’t know. They’re always X-ed out. All the words are X-ed out, so I don’t know. I don’t know how to read those.” … The Twins held Ryan Doumit (right calf) out of the lineup so Mauer could serve as the DH. Doumit is not ready to play the field yet. “He felt it a little bit last night, he’s been legging out some doubles,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I told him to take it easy, but you always know once you get playing in a game and you see something, you’re going to go for it. He was a little bit stiffer last night after the game. I backed him off today.” Gardenhire said he wants to see Doumit catch some bullpen sessions and run the bases before using him in the field.
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