CHICAGO (AP)—The boos are part of A.J. Pierzynski’s existence. They’re just louder at Wrigley Field, and that’s fine with the White Sox catcher.
No wonder he enjoyed his trip around the bases so much Sunday after hitting a grand slam in a seven-run seventh as the Chicago White Sox beat the Cubs 10-6 and avoided a sweep.
“They love me here. It’s a fun series. It’s what you play for,” said Pierzynski, who pumped his fist while running around first and then celebrated again as he crossed the plate.
“I’m used to it. It’s nothing new to me,” he added. “People boo me all the time. As (manager) Ozzie (Guillen) says, they boo me in my own backyard. The more people boo, the more I laugh. It relaxes me. If they cheered me, I wouldn’t know what to do.”
He did get some cheers, too, from a noisy contingent of White Sox fans among the 41,164 who sat shivering on a 47-degree day with a 12 mph wind blowing in off Lake Michigan.
No one was happier than Nick Masset, a reliever all season who made his first major league start and got the win by allowing three hits and two runs in 5 2-3 innings.
“In the first, I felt the nerves a little bit,” Masset said. “Once I get settled in I kind of told myself, ‘Just relax and go ahead and attack the hitters.’ From there, everything rolled,” he said.
Pierzynski greeted ex-teammate Neal Cotts with his homer to right-center field as the White Sox scored all seven runs with two outs. The rally started when Carlos Zambrano hit Juan Uribe with a pitch and then walked Jim Thome.
“He got two quick outs there in the seventh and then couldn’t put the final out away,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “It’s hard to score seven runs with two outs and nobody on.”
The center of controversy last season when he was punched in the jaw by Cubs catcher Michael Barrett setting off a melee, Pierzynski was booed when he came to the plate throughout the series.
He was already in the middle of another controversy. On Friday, Pierzynski went on the radio and said how disappointed he was to not be starting the series opener. Those comments and subsequent ones by the show’s host led Guillen to go on a profanity-laced outburst toward the host after he phoned in from his car.
Pierzynski and Guillen patched up the situation, and the White Sox bounced back after two tough losses to the Cubs in which they blew late leads.
This time they beat up on a former teammate in Cotts as the White Sox’s struggling offense finished with its first double-digit scoring game of the season.
“I would have have loved to go in there and pitch great against them, but it didn’t happen,” said Cotts, a key member of the 2005 World Series winner for the White Sox, who was traded to the Cubs for David Aardsma in the offseason. “I can’t dwell on it right now. It’s over.”
Aardsma, roughed up for five runs in one-third of an inning Saturday, surrendered a three-run homer to Aramis Ramirez and an RBI single to Jacque Jones in the eighth Sunday, chopping the lead to 10-6.
Masset left in the sixth after Soriano hit a two-out triple and Ramirez walked, prompting Guillen to bring in lefty Andrew Sisco.
In a situation similar to Saturday, the Cubs called on Derrek Lee—out of the starting lineup for a seventh straight game because of a sore neck—to pinch hit. Lee had hit a grand slam off lefty Boone Logan on Saturday to spur a Cubs’ win.
Sisco uncorked a wild pitch to send Ramirez to second and then another to allow Soriano to score, making it 3-2 and putting Ramirez on third. Then he walked Lee and Guillen called upon Mike MacDougal, who retired Barrett on a grounder.
The White Sox got to Zambrano in the second as Konerko walked with one out, Mackowiak blooped a single to right and Joe Crede singled to load the bases. Uribe then grounded a two-run single to right.
Dye homered in the third for a 3-1 lead.
Zambrano allowed six hits and seven runs in 6 2-3 innings.
The game was delayed for 42 minutes in the top of the ninth inning. … Crede left after three innings with tightness in his lower back. … Plate umpire Joe West ejected pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd for arguing a third strike in the ninth. … Closer Ryan Dempster told reporters after the game he was going to join the starting rotation. But about 30 minutes later, following a meeting with Piniella, he said he was remaining in the bullpen.