Chicago Paul Konerko got a standing ovation to start the third inning and tucked it away as another memorable moment in his 12-year career with the Chicago White Sox.
“That was cool,” said Konerko, who was cheered after the crowd learned he’d been added to the AL All-Star team.
But the individual honor wasn’t nearly as impressive to Konerko as what his team has been able to do over the last month.
Gavin Floyd’s strong pitching and two homers by Carlos Quentin led the White Sox past the Kansas City Royals, 5-1, Saturday night — Chicago’s seventh straight win and 24th victory in the last 29 games.
In early June, it looked like the White Sox’s season would pretty much be over because they were playing so poorly and had fallen nine games under .500 .
Now, they’re a half-game out of first and 10 games over.
“I’ve never seen a turnaround like this,” Konerko said. “I don’t think anybody saw this coming.”
Gordon Beckham, who has struggled most of the season, also homered for the White Sox.
Floyd (5-7), who left after Jason Kendall’s third single of the game with two outs in the eighth, gave up six hits and a run. David DeJesus ruined the shutout bid with an RBI double off reliever Matt Thornton.
Chicago pitching has allowed just three runs in the last three games. And Floyd is now 3-1 in his last seven starts with a 1.07 ERA.
“We’re clicking,” Floyd said. “Hopefully tomorrow we can take that game and go into the All-Star break and enjoy a little relaxation and get back on it.”
Quentin hit his 16th homer leading off the second inning against Brian Bannister. Beckham lined his third of the season over the left field fence to start the bottom of the fifth and make it 2-0. Omar Vizquel singled one out later and raced home when Konerko hit an RBI double to left with the ball momentarily rolling under the fence but still in play.
K.C. left fielder Scott Podsednik retrieved the ball and relayed it to third baseman Alberto Callaspo, whose high throw was too late to get Vizquel. The throwing error allowed Konerko to move up a base and came one inning after brief but steady rain showers.
“You’re trying to see if it’s a dead ball or what’s going on,” Bannister said. “I know it was wet under there, and the ball came out wet, so that was a frustrating play for everybody.”
Quentin then followed with his second homer of the game and third of the night off Bannister to make it 5-0.
“I gave up a few hits here and there, but it was really just Quentin,” Bannister said. “He changed the game.”