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0-fer and out: Konerko wins it
WHITE SOX 4, ORIOLES 3
Baseball may be the only sport where a psychiatrist should be on call for in-game consultations on the clubhouse couch.
Paul Konerko could have used a shrink last week. After hitting .481 in spring training, Konerko was hitless in his last 16 at-bats entering the bottom of the eighth inning of Saturday's game with Baltimore.
"It's a total head game," Konerko said. "It shouldn't be, but it is. It's miserable, but sooner or later I'd think that would change."
It did change for Konerko on Saturday when he singled home the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth, leading the Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Orioles before 19,201 at Comiskey Park.
The Sox have won four straight since their 2-4 start, taking their first two home games for the first time since moving into new Comiskey in 1991.
"Paul is one of those guys where the bigger the moment, the bigger the man," manager Jerry Manuel said. "It was probably good that he was in that situation. He needed something to get him going."
The Sox trailed 3-1 in the seventh when Jose Valentin homered off Orioles starter Scott Erickson. Kenny Lofton started the eighth-inning rally with a single off reliever Willis Roberts. Lofton took second on a wild pitch that bounced into the stands, and he scored the tying run when second baseman Melvin Mora made two errors on a Ray Durham chopper, bobbling it and then making an errant throw to first.
"Kenny Lofton creates so much havoc when he gets on," Manuel said.
Lofton has scored in nine straight games and raised his average to .375 by going 9-for-17 in his last four games.
After Magglio Ordonez struck out, Konerko fouled off two two-strike pitches from Roberts before singling to left to bring Durham home with the go-ahead run. Konerko said his 0-for-16 was a matter of effective pitching, not ineffective swings.
"I don't remember pitches being made on me like the last couple of days, even when I was a rookie," Konerko said. "They're not pitching me differently, they're just executing more. I've seen the same pitches. ... But instead of it being a ball away, it's [a strike] on the corner. And that gets you chasing bad pitches, because obviously you don't want to stand up there and take strikes for strike three."
Frank Thomas said Konerko was "destroying the dugout" after grounding to first in the seventh to go 0-for-16.
"He takes it very seriously," Thomas said. "He's very hard on himself. If you want a treat, just watch him in the dugout when he makes an out. Today he was like, `0-for-16 for the first time.' He's never been like that.
"It's good motivation. I told him, `You've still got 500 [at-bats] left, you've got one more today, so let's get prepared. Luckily it happened.
"That was a big hit for him, and he swung his way out of it. He had a couple of real hard swings and some ugly cuts, but he got it right at clutch time. He's made of that."
Antonio Osuna (2-0) notched the win in relief, while starter Todd Ritchie was left empty-handed again, despite a third straight strong outing. Ritchie allowed two earned runs on four hits in seven innings.
"As long as we win the game, I'll take that all year long," Ritchie said.
"I'm not stingy. I just want to win, and I'm sure everyone else just wants to win too. These guys play good ball. It's fun to watch the intensity level they bring to the park every day. It's a good feeling to have those guys behind you."