Jake Burger’s pinch homer carries White Sox to comeback victory over Rays

The Sox erased a 2-0 deficit in the eighth and snapped their four-game losing streak on the road trip.

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Jake Burger homered in the eighth inning.

Jake Burger (30) celebrates his two-run home run off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jalen Beeks with Danny Mendick (20) during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 4, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jake Burger’s pinch homer in the eighth inning woke up a listless White Sox lineup and gave a team starving for a win a 3-2 victory Saturday afternoon.

Burger pinch-hit for catcher Reese McGuire against lefty Jalen Beeks and drilled his fifth homer of the season and first pinch homer of his life, he said, over the center-field wall, the big blow in a three-run inning and the biggest shot of a road trip that had begun with four consecutive losses.

It came after Adam Engel’s pinch bloop double and shortstop Danny Mendick’s single.

“Clutch!” Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease said.

Burger’s walk-off single against the Cubs in the 12th on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field came in the Sox’ last win.

“I mean, he has a flair, doesn’t he?” -manager Tony La Russa said.

“As long as I control my emotions, anything can happen,” Burger said. “That’s kind of how I take it. It’s always fun to have the chance from Tony to have a situation like that given to you.”

Burger said he was looking for a changeup from Beeks and got it.

“I was sprinting out of the box,” he said. “Everybody was like ‘Dude, you didn’t know you got that?’ Maybe, but I want to make sure if it’s a double in the gap, I’ve got to get going. I was kind of floating around the bases. -Smiling the entire time, and Mendick looking back at me rounding second base getting me all fired up. It was fun.”

Cease survives seven walks

Cease tied a career high with seven walks in 4‰ innings and allowed two unearned runs, the result of an error by first baseman Jose Abreu on Yandy Diaz’s spinning grounder in the fifth. Cease was lifted after that.

Cease allowed one hit and struck out five. He was the 17th player in history to record multiple starts in which he allowed one hit and walked seven. Cease (3.39 ERA) leads the American League with 30 walks.

“It was pretty ugly, but it was good enough,” he said. “Every once in a while something like that will happen. It’s just about not giving in.”

Velasquez’s injury is mild

Right-hander Vince Velasquez’s groin strain that landed him on the 15-day injured list Friday wasn’t bad enough to prevent him from playing catch the same day, and he expects to throw a bullpen “in a couple days.”

Velasquez (5.30 ERA in eight appearances, including seven starts) was scheduled to start against the Rays on Friday but was replaced by call-up Davis Martin. He was hurt shagging fly balls in Toronto.

“Feeling good,” Velasquez said. “A little freak accident. I guess I kind of stepped in the wrong direction and kind of grabbed on. I had to make a decision for myself and for the team: Do I want to go out with something that would probably linger all game and cause some compensation and put myself in a bad situation?”

Banks down, Crick up

Right-hander Kyle Crick was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte, and lefty Tanner Banks was optioned to Charlotte. Crick, who pitched three scoreless innings over two appearances in Toronto, pitched 1„ scoreless innings with two strikeouts Saturday.

“He’s got stuff,” La Russa said. “I mean, he’s got playable, major-league stuff. More than just a nice slider. He’s got movement in his fastball, nice pop to it.”

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