White Sox 12, Reds 4
Hmmm, he thought. Won’t take much to hit one out of this place.
Then, on his first swing that mattered, Crede hit a first-inning grand slam that got Chicago’s high-powered offense rolling Friday night. The White Sox extended their interleague domination of the Cincinnati Reds with a 12-4 victory in their first visit to Great American Ball Park, which quickly lived up to its reputation.
“This place plays smaller than most parks, but I’ll take it,” Crede said.
Crede also had a double and a single, and Scott Podsednik drove in three runs with a pair of singles as the White Sox rocked left-hander Brandon Claussen (3-8) and kept on going against Cincinnati’s rickety bullpen.
The defending World Series champs have won six of their last eight, moving a season-high 17 games over .500 at 42-25. They remain 1 1/2 games behind Detroit in the AL Central, but they’ve certainly found their championship stride.
“We’re starting to hit those dog days of summer,” Crede said. “It’s heating up. We want to get these wins because they’re going to mean something come September.”
Even right-hander Freddy Garcia had a single in Chicago’s 16-hit attack, the latest blow to the slip-sliding Reds. Cincinnati won eight in a row at the start of June, only to slide into a 1-6 rut that has all but wiped out the ground they gained.
Cincinnati hasn’t had much success overall against the White Sox, losing their last seven games. The White Sox are 10-2 against the Reds in interleague play.
No one welcomed the rematch more than Garcia (8-5), who had been in a deep slump for nearly a month but usually does well against NL teams. This one followed the pattern.
Garcia hadn’t won since he beat the Cubs on May 20, going 0-3 with an 8.10 earned run average. He gave up a lot of homers (10) and a lot of runs (21) in his last four starts, making him wonder what he had to do to get it right.
Crede and Co. made it easy for him to break out. After Rich Aurilia hit a three-run homer off Garcia in the first inning, the Reds never got much going. Garcia shut them down on only one more hit until Austin Kearns led off the seventh inning with a homer.
“I threw a lot of strikes, had a good change-up and a good slider,” Garcia said. “That’s the way I should pitch. My last three or four starts, I tried to throw hard. That doesn’t work for me.”
Garcia gave up four runs and seven hits in eight innings, improving his impressive career stats in interleague play: 17-6 with a 2.37 earned run average.
“The AL’s different—they’ve got nine hitters,” he said. “The NL’s only got eight. The pitcher is ninth. It’s a different game.”
Crede’s third career grand slam—his second of the season—set the tone before a crowd of 32,673 that included at least as many White Sox rooters as hometown fans. Chicago loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks, and Crede pulled Claussen’s 21st pitch of the game down the line for a 4-0 lead.
Crede’s 10th homer of the season left him 5-for-10 with the bases loaded.
It never got any better for Claussen, who failed to get an out in the third inning before being replaced. The left-hander gave up a career-high nine runs for the second time this season, leaving him winless since May 19.
“I’m just trying to do my best not to let it get to me,” a subdued Claussen said. “At times like this, you find out a lot about yourself.”
Manager Jerry Narron hinted that he is considering moving reliever Joe Mays into the rotation.
“We’re definitely going to do everything we can to put the best club on the field we can every night and go from there,” said Narron, who sidestepped a direct question about changes to the rotation.
Garcia had faced the Reds once before, throwing eight shutout innings for Seattle in 2002. … Crede’s other grand slam this season was May 3 against Seattle. … Chicago RHP Jose Contreras tries to extend his 15-game winning streak in the regular season on Saturday. Contreras’ streak equals the club record and is the longest since Minnesota’s Johan Santana won 17 in a row in 2004-05. … The Reds have homered in 15 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak in franchise history. The club record is 21 games in 1956. … Claussen also gave up nine runs on April 22 at Milwaukee. … Reds INF Ray Olmedo was optioned to Triple-A Louisville to open a roster spot for INF Juan Castro, obtained from the Twins in a trade a day earlier.