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Eloy Jimenez’s home run in ninth powers White Sox to victory over Cubs

In his first major-league game against the team that traded him, Jimenez hit a tiebreaking homer Tuesday at Wrigley Field.


Forty-seven games into his major-league career, White Sox rookie Eloy Jimenez already is compiling a scrapbook full of remarkable moments.

There was the $43 million contract before he played his first big-league game, his first career home runs on a rainy night at Yankee Stadium, a 471-foot blast against the Nationals last week for his first homer at home and a pair of three-run blasts against the Yankees three nights later.

And then came perhaps the topper of them all, a two-run tiebreaking shot in the ninth inning against Pedro Strop to give the Sox a 3-1 victory Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The blow came against the team that traded him. In his first game at Wrigley. With a broken bat, no less.

‘‘He is so young and just scratching the surface,’’ Sox manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘I hope he continues to evolve and becomes one of those players everyone relies on in big moments.’’

It seems Jimenez already has at age 22. He sent Sox fans into a frenzy by hitting a homer in the ninth inning for the first time to put the up-and-coming Sox (35-36) in front in the first of four matchups between the crosstown rivals. Right-hander Lucas Giolito, who has been close to unbeatable in 2019, pitches for the Sox against Cubs left-hander Jon Lester on Wednesday at Wrigley.

‘‘It was an amazing moment,’’ Jimenez said. ‘‘Yes, it was a dream come true. When I signed [as a prospect with the Cubs], I said I want to hit one in Wrigley. But now I’m with the White Sox. It feels really good.’’

Acquired in a trade with top pitching prospect Dylan Cease and two lesser prospects for left-hander Jose Quintana in 2017, Jimenez fast is becoming a face of the Sox’ rebuild, if not the franchise. More moments such as the one Tuesday can etch that in stone.

‘‘Everyone gravitates toward him,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘It was a great moment, a great moment for the team. It was a great team win.’’

Five-plus innings of one-run ball by right-hander Ivan Nova, two innings of one-hit relief with three strikeouts by left-hander Aaron Bummer and a combined scoreless inning by Jace Fry and Evan Marshall (3-0, 0.00 ERA) set the stage for Jimenez (2-for-3, walk) after James McCann singled with one out in the ninth.

‘‘I can’t explain it right now,’’ Jimenez said, showing the crack on the bat handle, courtesy of a two-seam fastball by Strop that ran in on him. ‘‘I was looking for a fastball, and I got it. He broke my bat. I didn’t even know that ball was over the fence.’’

All that was left was a perfect ninth from Sox closer Alex Colome, who converted his 15th save in as many chances.

But all anybody could talk about afterward was the homer.

‘‘As soon as I saw the ball off the bat fly into the stands, I ran out and started celebrating with everybody,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘Just a super-cool moment for us. It’s going to take those big moments every once in a while to win a baseball game, and doing it first game playing the Cubs this year makes it even more sweet.’’

After a so-so start, Jimenez is cranking it up. He is 12-for-32 with six homers, two doubles and 13 RBI in his last nine games.

‘‘We all knew the talent was there from the get-go,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘It was just a matter of time for him to get to the big leagues, get comfortable in the big leagues. I think he’s getting comfortable with the big leagues a lot faster than I would’ve predicted.

‘‘A ball going that far on a broken bat blows my mind. It’s the raw power right there. It’s unbelievable.’’