KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Mike Sweeney was glad he stuck around
for the end of this one.
Sweeney hit a two-run homer two innings after he was hit on his
left elbow by a pitch and the Kansas City Royals rallied for a 4-3
victory over the slumping Chicago White Sox on Saturday."That's the luxury of being the designated hitter," Sweeney
said. "(The trainers) treated me between innings with ice. It was
truly a team effort. Without them, Matt Stairs probably would have
hit the home run."Sweeney homered on a 2-2 pitch off Cliff Politte (0-1) with Mark
Grudzielanek, who had singled for his third hit, aboard in the
eighth. Sweeney's first homer of the season landed in the first row
over the left-field fence."I knew my first couple of at-bats I didn't fare too well,"
Sweeney said. "Against Politte, I was trying to get Grudzielanek
to second. Politte is tough. His fastball is in the upper 90s (mph)
and his slider is in the 80s. I was just battling, battling,
battling."The White Sox, who won 16 of their first 20 games last season,
have lost four of their first five in defense of their world
championship."We are the team to beat and we're not off to a good start,"
Politte said. "It is tough because we know we're better than this.
I didn't do my job. It was a good pitch, but that doesn't make it
any better."The White Sox have lost four straight after winning their season
opener."It's a different season," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen
said. "We have to continue to play and forget about what's already
happened."Sweeney heard boos after he struck out in his first two at-bats,
but changed that to cheers in the eighth."I know in the long run the fans will be behind us and we hope
to put on a good show for our fans," Sweeney said.Javier Vazquez, who was making his White Sox debut, tossed seven
strong innings. He allowed five hits and a walk and left with a 3-2
lead.The White Sox had managed just two hits before the seventh when
they strung together four hits and scored two runs off Andrew
Sisco. Jim Thome's double off the left-field wall scored Brian
Anderson to tie it at 2. A.J. Pierzynski's infield single scored
Scott Podsednik with the go-ahead run.Vazquez held the Royals to two hits over five shutout innings
before Grudzielanek singled in the sixth and Sweeney was hit by a
pitch. Reggie Sanders' double to the left-center gap drove in both
runners.Elmer Dessens (1-0), the fourth of five Kansas City pitchers,
picked up the victory. Ambiorix Burgos worked a flawless ninth for
his first save of the season.Royals starter Denny Bautista gave up just one run and one hit
over six innings, but walked five and left after 94 pitches."He did a great job," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "He's
nice to have in the rotation with that kind of stuff."Bautista, who did not make a start after May 11 last season
because of a sore shoulder, did not allow a hit until Paul
Konerko's single to center in the fourth. Konerko's single advanced
Thome, who led off the inning with a walk, to third. Thome scored
on Joe Crede's sacrifice fly to center.
Royals CF David DeJesus did not play because of tightness
in his left hamstring, which he injured Friday while running the
bases. ... Podsednik snapped an 0-for-16 skid with an eighth-inning
single. ... RHP Runelvys Hernandez is scheduled to start on Sunday
for the Royals' Triple-A Omaha club. If he has a strong outing he
could be promoted for a Friday start at Tampa Bay. That will be the
first time the Royals need a fifth starter.