Konerko, White Sox Beat Indians 6-5
CHICAGO (AP) If this really was a farewell for Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, it was warm and heartfelt.
Still, this might not be the end for them with the White Sox.
Konerko had two hits, manager Ozzie Guillen got his 600th win and Chicago closed out a winning yet disappointing season with a 6-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
“The door’s not shut here,” Konerko said. “I just wanted to get that across. I feel almost guilty because it’s like if I was to come back, after a couple years from now, no man should get what I got today twice. It’s very possible that I could be back. It’s very possible that I could go somewhere else.”
Alexei Ramirez homered in the first inning and capped a three-run second with an RBI double. Juan Pierre had three hits and drove in three runs, and Edwin Jackson (4-2) got his first win in more than a month.
Chris Sale worked two innings for his fourth save in as many chances, despite giving up a two-run homer to Drew Sutton with two outs in the ninth.
The White Sox ended the season on a 9-2 run and wound up with 88 wins while finishing second in the AL Central after so many twists and turns. Between the slow start, the 25-5 run into the All-Star break and a late fade that knocked them out of the playoff race, this would have been a wild year even without all the drama surrounding Guillen and general manager Ken Williams.
They have apparently worked out their differences at least for now, and Guillen will be back next season, something that was not a given a week ago.
Whether Konerko and Pierzynski will return is another issue. Both have expiring contracts, and could be nearing the end of a run that included a championship in 2005.
“It was a special time here, a special place,” said Pierzynski, who would like to return. “I’ll always be thankful to the fans of Chicago, city of Chicago for what they’ve done. It’s something that I’ll never forget.”
Both players were showered with cheers during pregame introductions, when they stepped to the plate and when they were lifted.
Pierzynski, who was 0 for 2, came out just before the start of the fourth inning. Fans roared as he walked off the field, and there were hugs and high-fives from teammates and coaches in the dugout.
Konerko got similar treatment with one out in the seventh, the crowd chanting “Paulie! Paulie!” as he walked off the field.
By then, he had singled twice, leaving him with a .312 average. He finished one of his best seasons with 39 homers and 111 RBIs.
“They’re very special people,” said Guillen, who wanted Konerko to stay in and go for his 40th homer.
Instead, Konerko insisted Mark Kotsay go in and get an at-bat.
For the Indians, it was a fitting end after they won just 69 games in their first season under manager Manny Acta. They did, however, win seven straight before dropping the last two.
“I feel good about the progress these guys made in the second half of the season,” Acta said.
The White Sox wasted no time jumping on Justin Germano (0-3), with Pierre leading off the first with a single and Ramirez driving the next pitch halfway up the left-field foul pole for his 18th homer, making it 2-0.
The Indians got an unearned run in the second, but the White Sox responded with three in the bottom half.
Pierre hit a two-run, two-out single and came around on a double by Ramirez that made it 5-1.
That was enough for Jackson, who had gone 0-2 in five starts since beating Cleveland on Aug. 31. He gave up five hits, including a leadoff homer to Luke Carlin in the fifth and a run-scoring single by Trevor Crowe that chased him with two out in the sixth.
Jackson finished 10-12 overall in Arizona and Chicago.
Germano lasted two innings, allowing five runs and seven hits in his first start since May 2008 with San Diego.
“Last game of the season, they came out hacking,” he said.
Notes: The Indians held Shin-Soo Choo out of the lineup. He finished with a .300 average and .401 on-base percentage. … Besides Konerko and Pierzynski, closer Bobby Jenks has an uncertain future with the club after a shaky season. He’s eligible for arbitration, but Williams gave him a less-than-ringing endorsement. “As I sit here right now, that is something that we really have to evaluate strongly because I’ve been disappointed on a number of levels,” Williams said. “There are certain things that I’m not going to talk about right now, but I will say is Bobby Jenks has been good for a long time.”
Updated October 3, 2010
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