Jose Abreu, Daniel Palka power White Sox to 6-4 victory
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Admitting his concentration was an issue in his previous four starts in which he had struggled with an 8.72 ERA and 0-4 record, Reynaldo Lopez looked locked in Thursday.
He pitched seven-plus innings of two-run ball in the White Sox’ 6-4 victory against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Lopez exited in the eighth inning leading 2-0 with two runners on, a lead that disappeared on Whit Merrifield’s three-run pinch home run with two outs against left-hander Xavier Cedeno, the third Sox reliever of the inning.
Jose Abreu’s homer in the bottom of the inning against Jason Adam tied it, and Daniel Palka’s three-run pinch homer against Jason Hammel put the Sox in front 6-3.
Lopez, who received a no-decision, allowed five hits and two walks and struck out four, helping the Sox (38-70) avoid a series sweep against the Royals (34-74).
“I’ve said it before — focus is the thing that will keep you in the game,’’ Lopez said. “Focus is the key to success. Today, the focus was throwing the first pitch for a strike and commanding the zone.’’
“Right from the beginning, straight out of the bullpen, you could see right out of the shoot he was hitting 96 [mph], 97, working 93, 94 with a good changeup,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “Attacking the strike zone.’’
Lopez said he told himself to block out the outside noise and “just think about the game, the pitches you need to execute, and I think that was a key for me today.’’
Omar Narvaez singled Abreu home in the fourth and Tim Anderson doubled in a run in the seventh to notch two runs against right-hander Brad Keller.
Rosell Herrera’s sacrifice fly in the ninth against Luis Avilan, who went home with the dugout scorecard for notching his first career save, accounted for the Royals’ fourth run. Leury Garcia’s running catch against the wall in left helped prevent further damage.
Palka in a pinch
Palka, 4-for-11 with three homers as a pinch hitter, batted for Matt Davidson and tied Oscar Gamble’s franchise record (1977) for pinch homers. Palka said he was looking to go deep.
“I wanted to hit a homer,’’ he said. “That was it. I wanted to get a ball I could hit out of the park. He gave me one.’’
Palka has 16 homers this season.
Madrigal, Walker promoted
Fourth overall selection Nick Madrigal and second-round outfielder Steele Walker were promoted to Class A Winston-Salem and low Class A Kannapolis, respectively.
Madrigal, a middle infielder, was batting .341/.347/.409 with one walk and no strikeouts in 12 games at Kannapolis.
† Right-hander Alec Hansen, rated as the Sox’ No. 2 pitching prospect after leading the minors in strikeouts last season, was transferred from Class AA Birmingham to Winston-Salem. Hansen, 0-4 with a 6.56 ERA in nine starts, has dealt with soreness in his right forearm.
This and that
With 141 homers, Abreu passed Ron Kittle for 10th place on the all-time franchise list.
† Narvaez is batting .407 with six doubles, four homers and 17 RBI in his last 27 games.
† Anderson has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 home games.
† Catcher Kevan Smith missed the game while with his wife, awaiting the birth of the couple’s first child. The couple plans to name the baby after close friend and former teammate Daniel Webb, who died in an ATV accident last October.