“Five minutes before the game, it slid out while I was in the cage,” said the Chicago White Sox first baseman. “It goes in easy and goes out easy. When it’s there, it’s a pain.”
Konerko, who was lifted late Saturday when the wrist flared, started and tied his career high with five hits, including a single in the 10th inning that helped Chicago beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2.
Konerko raised his batting average from .295 to .323.
“Paul is about as professional a hitter as you are going to see,” said Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who dealt with Konerko for years in the AL Central when he was Cleveland’s manager “He knows the situation and what he is trying to do and he does a good job with it.”
Brent Morel(notes) opened the 10th with a single to left off closer Brandon League(notes) (0-1), who was working more than one inning for the first time this season. Juan Pierre(notes) bunted Morel to second before Ramirez hit a 1-0 fastball.
“We needed it. We need the big hit,” Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “That’s what we’re looking for, a base hit with the game on the line. PK (Konerko) had a big night, Dunny had a big hit late in the game.”
The White Sox took two of three from the Mariners for their first series win since April 7-10.
“Hopefully, the first of many ones,” Guillen said. “Hopefully, we can turn it around and it will give us confidence as a team and confidence as individual players.”
Guillen said that he doesn’t want to give Santos the title of closer yet “because it’s too early to say this is the guy we are using.”
Yet, having said that, “it’s obvious he’s there every ninth inning when we have the lead. He deserves to be out there in the last inning.”
Santos, who started the season in setup, now has worked 15 innings, allowing no runs, seven hits, striking out 19 and walking five.
“I don’t need it. It’s just a title,” he said. “To me, it’s insignificant. We’re winning. I’m throwing the last three outs, that’s all I need.”
Eric Bedard allowed struck out nine and allowed two runs on five hits in five innings.
The Sox scored two off Bedard in the fourth. With one out, Konerko doubled off the left-center wall and later scored when Ramon Castro(notes) singled to left and Bradley’s erratic throw forced catcher Olivo to chase the ball toward the dugout.
Then it bounced off his glove. Rios, seeing the plate uncovered, slid home for another run.
Konerko was surprised third-base coach Jeff Cox waved him around.
“We usually don’t score in that situation but he was emphatic. So I thought maybe it was a bobble,” Konerko said. “He was just being aggressive. Sometimes when you make them put some throws together, things happen. At this point, we’ve got nothing to lose, just send ‘em.”
The Mariners tied it with two in the fifth on Ryan’s RBI single that ended Buehrle’s 17-inning scoreless streak, and Suzuki’s fly to center.
The Mariners had two odd plays that probably cost them. Suzuki was hit in the foot by a batted ball while he tried for second on a hit-and-run in the fourth.
In the seventh, Ryan ripped a ball past third base but umpire Mark Wegner was hit in the left leg when he jumped to avoid it. That prevented Ryan from easily getting into scoring position.
“Luck may be turning our way, too,” Buehrle said. “It could have been first and third in the fourth with one out but instead the ball hits Ichiro(notes). Then on the ball down the line it hits the umpire. Hopefully, things keep turning our way.”
Notes: Mariners RHP Shawn Kelley(notes), coming back from right elbow tendon transplant surgery, attempted a simulated game but was stopped after one of two planned innings. He threw 15 pitches. “We decided it was enough,” manager Eric Wedge said. “I think he’s fine. We did not want to press it. He’s so close to going on rehab. He’ll catch a couple days then have another sim game in Baltimore.” … Chone Figgins(notes), who fouled a ball off his knee, was scratched from the lineup. … Konerko, who had X-rays taken of his wrist after Saturday’s game, said, “we can’t identify what it is but it’s nothing serious, just something that’s nagging.”