Jim Thome's ascent toward 500 home runs and rookie Danny Richar's continued development highlighted the White Sox's climb out of the American League Central cellar Tuesday night.
Thome hit his 493rd career home run, a two-run shot, and Richar added a solo shot to vault the Sox to a 5-2 victory over Kansas City.
Thome's homer moved him into a tie for 23rd place with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff on the all-time list.
"When you mention those names, it really kind of puts it in perspective," Thome said.
The personal achievements of Thome and Richar defused some of the disappointment over the Sox's recent poor performance heading into the final 5 1/2 weeks of the season.
"There are a lot of guys who have reached 500, but I don't think their teammates cared about it as much as we're going to care about Jim doing it," said Paul Konerko, who hit an insurance homer in the eighth. "He's a great guy, and we're looking forward to it.
"He treats everyone so well it feels like we're hitting 500 home runs. I hope it comes sooner rather than later."
Thome hasn't gloated during his climb toward becoming the 23rd player in major-league history to reach 500 homers, citing the team's struggles. But hitting his third home run in four games increased the possibility he could reach the 500 mark in the final 37 games.
Although closer Bobby Jenks failed to gain sole possession of a major-league record Monday night, he agreed to donate the glove he used to retire 41 consecutive batters to the Baseball Hall of Fame at the end of the year.
Jenks extended his scoreless streak to 15 innings Tuesday by pitching a perfect ninth inning for his 35th save. Jenks struck out Joey Gathright to end the game. Gathright's single Monday had prevented Jenks from breaking the record.
Javier Vazquez (11-6) won for the eighth time in his last nine decisions.
The Sox continue to evaluate Richar and fellow rookies Jerry Owens and Josh Fields, who leads all AL rookies with 14 home runs. Richar has drawn 10 walks and hasn't committed an error in his first 19 games. He also continues to display some power. Richar's solo homer in the fourth gave him two homers in his last five games and three since joining the Sox on July 28.
"This kid, every time he comes to the plate, gives his best effort, taking pitches, [good] on-base percentage," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This kid should be better, and he will be better."
Guillen continued to handle his bullpen as if first place was at stake.
Newcomer Mike Myers entered the game in the eighth inning and was pulled after one pitch—a single to Ross Gload. Ryan Bukvich also was lifted after surrendering a first-pitch single to Emil Brown, but left-hander Matt Thornton induced Alex Gordon to hit into a double play on the first pitch to end the threat.
"We had the lead, and I have 13 pitchers I got to use," Guillen said.
The only setback was a right rib-cage strain suffered by Scott Podsednik that forced him to leave after five innings. Podsednik spent three weeks on the disabled list in July because of a left rib-cage strain.
White Sox 5, Royals 2
Bats open escape hatch
Thome's 493rd HR ties Gehrig, McGriff as Sox flee cellar
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.