Garcia backed by homers, White Sox beat Royals 9-2

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CHICAGO (AP)—Freddy Garcia(notes) and Andruw Jones(notes), former All-Stars who seemed washed up years ago, are making the Chicago White Sox look pretty smart these days.

Garcia has been an effective No. 5 starter and Jones has been one of Chicago’s most productive hitters—trends that continued Wednesday night in a 9-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Garcia, whose 3-0 postseason performance in 2005 helped the White Sox win their first championship in 88 years, foundered after leaving the team a year later. Jones, Atlanta’s superstar center fielder for a decade, suffered through poor seasons in 2008 and 2009.

The White Sox signed each 33-year-old to a bargain contract and have been rewarded.

“Andruw came here to fight for a job and I told him, ‘I never bench a guy who can hit. If you produce, you’re going to be in the lineup,”’ White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of Jones, who hit his ninth homer of the season and drove in three runs as Chicago built a 7-0 lead. “All of the hard work he did in the offseason is paying off.”

Jones, whose 397th homer moved him past Joe Carter into 49th place on baseball’s career list, is third on the team with 16 RBIs.

“I’m just happy the White Sox gave me an opportunity and that I’m taking advantage,” the 10-time Gold Glove winner said. “It’s still early. I just want to stay consistent the whole year.”

As for Garcia, Guillen said: “He’s done more than I thought (he would).”

Even in a lopsided loss, however, the Royals didn’t make things easy for Garcia (1-2), who had gone 0-7 with a 7.40 ERA in eight starts against them since last beating them on July 25, 2005.

He had to get out of jams in the second, fifth and sixth innings to win for only the fourth time in 14 starts since he rejoined the White Sox last August.

“Kansas City got so many people on base in every inning, you kind of got a little nervous,” Guillen said. “They were a couple at-bats away from (getting) close. Freddy made good pitches. When he throws strikes, he’s nasty.”

Garcia won despite allowing 10 hits in six innings. He only gave up two runs, partly because he didn’t walk anybody.

Meanwhile, Kansas City’s Brian Bannister(notes) (1-2) paid the price for being wild, allowing seven runs on seven hits and four walks in three-plus innings.

“I really wasted everyone’s time out there,” he said. “I just had no feel for the ball. It was the worst feel I’ve ever had … in the big leagues. You could just see from my pitches. They were up and they were on a silver platter.”

Bannister, who has an 8.22 ERA in 13 career starts against Chicago, walked Gordon Beckham(notes) in the first inning before giving up Jones’ homer. Alex Rios(notes) doubled with two outs, A.J. Pierzynski(notes) walked and Carlos Quentin(notes) and Mark Teahen(notes) followed with RBI singles to make it 4-0.

Quentin entered the game in a 6-for-53 slump while Teahen had been 4 for 28.

Paul Konerko(notes) doubled home a run in the second and the White Sox scored twice in the fourth when Jones drew a bases-loaded walk from Bruce Chen(notes) and Rios had a sacrifice fly.

Garcia, who went 40-21 with the White Sox from 2004-06, allowed a run in the fifth and another in the sixth but kept the Royals from big innings that would have gotten them back in the game.

After Chris Getz’s(notes) RBI single put two on with nobody out in the fifth, Garcia retired Willie Bloomquist(notes) on a liner and David DeJesus(notes) on a grounder and then struck out Scott Podsednik(notes).

Alberto Callaspo’s(notes) run-scoring single made it 7-2 in the sixth and Jason Kendall(notes) followed with a two-out double, but Garcia snagged Getz’s line drive to end the inning.

“We put some hits on the board,” Getz said, “but we couldn’t scratch them out when there were opportunities.”

Rios added a two-run homer off Brad Thompson(notes) in the sixth.

NOTES: While the White Sox won only their second series of the season, the Royals have taken just one. … Chicago’s Juan Pierre(notes) got his 474th stolen base, tying him with Roberto Alomar for 40th on the career list. … The Royals called up 1B Kila Ka’aihue(notes) from Triple-A Omaha to fill the roster spot created when OF Rick Ankiel(notes) (strained quad) went on the disabled list Tuesday. … Chicago is 42-17 at home against Kansas City since 2004. … Guillen on Konerko, who leads the majors with 12 homers: “Every time this guy’s a free agent (to be), the baseball gods help him.” Konerko parlayed a huge 2005 season into a five-year, $60 million contract.

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