Manager Jerry Manuel wore a T-shirt bearing the words of the White Sox's latest unofficial slogan: "It's better to burn out than fade away."
The message: Don't hold back. Go all out.
The Sox did just that Sunday by rallying for a 7-4 victory over Cleveland.
Tony Graffanino struck the key blow, a three-run homer off Alex Herrera in the eighth.
It was Graffanino's first home run since May 21, and it helped the Sox avoid what could have been a disastrous 2-8 road trip against three of the four worst teams in the American League.
"We have some ground to make up," Graffanino said. "We gave away some ballgames where we should have done some damage. We need to come out intense, excited and ready to play. Good things happen when we do that."
Good things also happen when multiple players contribute. That was the case Sunday.
Magglio Ordonez hit a three-run homer in the first inning off left-hander Billy Traber. The 422-foot blast was Ordonez's 17th of the season.
Paul Konerko had his first three-hit game of the season as he inched back toward .200.
Joe Crede hit a sacrifice fly in the first and backhanded a foul pop by extending his glove into Cleveland's dugout.
Center fielder Aaron Rowand unleashed a cannon throw in the eighth to nail Travis Hafner at the plate. Catcher Miguel Olivo got the worst of the collision but held on for the out.
Tom Gordon earned his second save in as many days after giving up two leadoff hits in the ninth. He struck out Casey Blake on a 3-2 fastball, jammed Milton Bradley to induce a popup and fired a 97 m.p.h. fastball past Shane Spencer to end it.
"We're looking forward to this second half," Manuel said. "We're playing good enough defense. Guys are running the bases hard. We're getting good starting pitching for the most part. Once we straighten out our bullpen and swing the bats, we should be fine."
Manuel was disappointed with starter Jon Garland, who blew a 4-0 lead. The real trouble started in the fifth when Garland gave up a leadoff single and then walked rookie shortstop Jhonny Peralta on a 3-1 slider.
"That was the pitch that upset me more than anything," Manuel said. "There are only a couple of ways to let a team back in the game. One is base on balls. For as much life as Jon has on his sinker, I would have liked to see that one instead."
Later in the inning, Garland gave up a game-tying double to Milton Bradley, but lefty David Sanders, after walking Ben Broussard, bailed him out by striking out Hafner.
The game remained tied until Graffanino stepped up with two outs and two on.
Herrera, a left-hander, danced after firing an 0-2 pitch off the outside corner. He wanted strike three to be called.
"I didn't think that pitch was close," Graffanino said. "I was surprised he even did that."
Graffanino cleared the left-field fence on Herrera's next pitch, which was up and in.
"Lately that's a pitch that I can't even touch, so I don't understand how I hit it," he said. "I need to watch it on video and figure out what I did."
Or he can merely enjoy it.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times