CHICAGO (AP) — One day after being yanked from a game for not hustling, Alex Rios busted out big slump in a big way.
Rios hit a grand slam, drove in five runs and had three hits to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 10-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
Rios had been in a 2-for-20 slump before going 3-for-5. Rios, who also ended a homerless drought of 120 at-bats, insisted that his big day had nothing to do with being pulled from the game on Friday.
“I go about my business the same way every day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what happens the night before or whatever. I try to do the same things every day and I try to perform my best.
“I felt a little better today. I felt like I was seeing the ball better. When you see the ball better, it’s because you’ve done some mechanical adjustments.”
Rios and White Sox manager Robin Ventura disagreed on whether the benching was necessary, but they were on the same page in believing it didn’t have any carry-over effect.
“The other day he was 6-for-6 and there was nothing going on there,” Ventura said referring to Rios’ performance at Detroit on July 9. “He’s just a good player and he had a good day. He came up at the right time.
“He hit a grand slam and had some big hits to help us win. I don’t think it had anything to do with last night.”
Either way, Rios’ slam turned around what appeared to be another lackluster White Sox game into their 10th win in 32 games.
Jake Peavy (7-4), making his first start since June 4 because of a fracture rib, got off to a shaky start. He allowed a two-run homer to Dan Uggla in the second inning and two more runs in the third. But he shut down the Braves during his final three innings.
He allowed seven hits in six innings, and just two of the four runs charged to him were earned.
“I probably came out of the gate a little too fast because I was excited,” Peavy said. “I had a little extra adrenaline, but the feel wasn’t there. I was able to pull the reins back a little toward the middle and get my feel back a little bit to where I was throwing the ball more consistently to where I wanted it.
“The boys picked me up today. The team came back and Alex got a big hit. It was a fun day.”
Braves starter Paul Maholm (9-9) was forced out in the fourth inning because of a sprained left wrist. He was staked to a 4-0 lead but couldn’t hold it. He allowed seven runs and seven hits in three-plus innings.
“It flared up on him in the fourth inning,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the injury. “He did it in Miami his last start when he was hitting. In the fourth it flared up on him a little bit and we didn’t want to take any more chances.
“We got him out of there as soon as we saw something.”
The soft-tossing left-hander started struggling with his location after retiring six of the first seven batters he faced.
But the first five batters in the third inning got on, capped by Rios’ grand slam that gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead.
Rios’ 12th homer of the season ended a power drought of 120 at-bats.
During the White Sox 6-4 loss to the Braves on Friday, Rios hit what appeared to be a routine double-play grounder in the fifth inning. Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons bobbled the ball, and Rios likely would have beaten the throw to first, but he didn’t run hard out of the box.
Instead of a run scoring, the White Sox were out of the inning. Ventura removed Rios in the seventh.
Before Saturday’s game, Rios admitted he was wrong for not running hard. He said it was caused mostly by frustration, and added that he wished Ventura had handled it differently.
“(The message) would have gone through better if he put me in his office and talked to me personally,” he said. “If he wants to make a statement for the team, it probably worked.”
On Saturday, the Sox followed their five-run third with a four-run fourth to break the game open.
Chicago’s latest struggles are a reason both Rios and Peavy have been involved in rumors as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
“With trade rumors, I don’t like to speak about them because they’re just rumors,” Rios said. “Until it happens, I’ll just stick to the idea that they’re just rumors. When they happen, we can talk about it.”
NOTES: Braves RHP Brandon Beachy, recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2012, pitched five innings to get the win in a minor league rehab start on Friday. “He threw the ball really well,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “The report after the game was it’s the best he’s felt in a while.” . Braves LHP Mike Minor (9-4) faces LHP Jose Quintana (4-2) in the series finale on Sunday.
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