CHICAGO (AP)—Paul Konerko started quickly this season—seven homers in his first 14 games—then fell into a deep slump that he’s still trying to shake.
Struggling around .200 with his batting average, Konerko delivered for baseball’s best team with a broken-bat single Friday night, rallying the Chicago White Sox to their 27th win in 36 games.
“When you are scuffling, you are hopeful when you do well it’s in a meaningful spot. That’s all you can hope for,” Konerko said after his two-run, bases-loaded single in the seventh helped the White Sox rally to a 5-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
“You hope that something breaks through at one time or another,” Konerko added.
Konerko entered Friday night’s game batting .197 and was in a 5-for-44 slide before he went 2-for-3.
“No question a few of us have not swung the bat well here early on. But when the team wins, that buys you time to get right and there is less urgency,” Konerko said.
Mark Buehrle (6-1) allowed five hits in eight innings to win his fifth straight decision and was bailed out when the White Sox came from down 3-0.
The Orioles scored all their runs with two outs in the fourth and then didn’t have a baserunner in the final five innings.
Dustin Hermanson pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save in as many opportunities. Hermanson has still not allowed a run in 18 1-3 innings this season.
“Buehrle doesn’t really have a pattern. He throws everything on the corners,” Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said.
“He threw a lot of strikes. I’ve seen him do that before. You’ve got to get him early.”
Buehrle wasn’t surprised by the comeback.
“In previous years I think we’d be kind of down on ourselves and kind of put it in the books that we were done, but the way we’ve battled back it seems like we give up a couple or runs and this offense will get them back sometime,” Buehrle said.
Chicago has now had a lead in all 36 games.
“In spring training we knew were going to be good, but I don’t think anybody expected us to be this good,” Buehrle added.
With the White Sox trailing 3-2, Scott Podsednik led off the seventh with a ground rule double to chase Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez. Podsednik raced to third on Tadahito Iguchi’s grounder to first that Palmeiro mishandled for an error, putting runners at the corners.
“It was more like a line drive. I tried to catch it in the air,” Palmeiro said. “Something happened and the ball just dove on me. … It looked like a split-finger fastball.”
“Good for him. He’s our RBI man and to have him get a hit like that in a big situation, hopefully that will clear his mind,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Konerko.
Williams wasn’t pleased with the pitch he made to Konerko.
“You can always say you made a good pitch, broke a bat. He did his job,” Williams said. “The location of the pitch was not good. … I was trying to bury it, get in on him, jam him.”
Chicago pushed across another run on an infield single by pinch-hitter Carl Everett.
Lopez couldn’t hold the three-run cushion after shutting Chicago down for four innings. He allowed 10 hits and three runs in six plus innings.
Baltimore roughed up Buehrle with a two-out, three-run rally in the fourth started by Miguel Tejada’s single.
After Javy Lopez walked, B.J. Surhoff came through with an RBI single and Chris Gomez followed with a two-run double to left. Baltimore might have had more but Chicago right fielder Jermaine Dye made a nice running catch against the wall in right-center to rob Palmeiro.
Chicago got one back in the fifth as Podsednik hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on Iguchi’s double to right center.
Willie Harris hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth to make it 3-2.
Everett was out of the starting lineup for a third straight game with a sore leg but pinch-hit for Harris in the seventh. … Harris, who’d been on bereavement leave from May 2-9 for a death in the family, was playing in his first game since April 30. … Orioles OF Larry Bigbie, who had to leave Thursday night’s game with a sore hamstring, was listed day-to-day. Keith Reed started in center. … Orioles OF Sammy Sosa, put on the disabled list Tuesday with a staph infection in his left foot, had a clean-up procedure performed Friday. The team said his infection is responding to antibiotics and the abscess wound is healing. Sosa could begin working out in a week to 10 days.