White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was eager to see how his team would react after a devastating loss in the season opener, when the Kansas City Royals scored six runs in the ninth inning.
"We're going to see what [we're made of]," Guillen said Wednesday. "I'll be happy if we play this game like we played the first game. Obviously, the results weren't what we wanted. But they were focused and did everything we asked them to do."
Monday's heartbreaker had no carryover effect. The Sox rebounded behind Esteban Loaiza for a 4-3 victory and a split of the two-game series.
This time the bullpen nailed down the victory, with Billy Koch getting his first save since June 24.
Guillen called Koch's outing "very important for us. If he can do the job like that every day, our bullpen is going to be stronger."
After burning through three relievers in Monday's ninth inning, Guillen joked that he wanted Loaiza to throw a complete game Wednesday to avoid the need for bullpen moves.
Guillen received some criticism in his first game as manager for removing Koch in favor of Damaso Marte, who allowed two home runs and lost the game.
Loaiza pitched six innings and was lifted after walking Aaron Guiel to lead off the seventh. Loaiza allowed five hits and walked four while throwing 105 pitches. Loaiza left with a 4-2 lead, and Guillen's first bullpen move was to bring in veteran Mike Jackson.
The Royals pulled within one with a run in the seventh, and Guillen went to Cliff Politte to start the eighth. Politte gave up a leadoff single to Juan Gonzalez but then set down the next three hitters.
That set up the ninth and a decision for Guillen: Koch or Marte to close it out?
Guillen went with Koch, who gave up a two-out single to Angel Berroa. But Koch then retired Carlos Beltran on a pop to center for Guillen's first victory as a major-league manager and the first for a Venezuelan-born manager.
"If every win is going to be like that, I may not make it until July," Guillen said.
The Sox took the lead on Miguel Olivo's two-run homer in the second. Olivo tries to mimic his mentor, Sandy Alomar Jr., whenever possible. Alomar had hit a two-run homer in the second Monday.
The Royals cut the lead in half in the third. Loaiza walked two but appeared to get out of the inning when shortstop Jose Valentin made a diving stop on Berroa's grounder up the middle. Valentin flipped to Juan Uribe for a force on Tony Graffanino, and replays appeared to show Uribe's relay beating Berroa at first. But Berroa was called safe.
After a walk to Beltran, Mike Sweeney singled to left to score Berroa and make it 2-1.
Loaiza appeared unfazed by the stiff neck that forced him out of his last spring start after just one inning. Loaiza walked three hitters in the first four innings, but except for the second walk to Beltran, they didn't cause much trouble.
Loaiza was given a 4-1 cushion in the fifth when Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee homered off Royals starter Darrell May.
The three-run lead lasted one hitter into the bottom of the inning when Guiel jerked a home run down the right-field line. Singles by Graffanino and Beltran put Royals on first and third with one out, but Loaiza retired Sweeney and Juan Gonzalez to get out of the inning.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times