ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen issued a pregame challenge to rebound one day after a tough loss, and his team responded with a one-sided victory.
Jim Thome hit his 511th career home run and Javier Vazquez won his third consecutive start to lead Chicago past the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-2 on Friday night.The White Sox blew a 5-2 lead en route to a 6-5, 10-inning loss Thursday at Baltimore."This is special," Guillen said. "We have a special thing going on. I think the way we lost last night, and the way we traveled here, getting here late at night, it's a good sign. It's a great sign."Thome connected in the third inning for a three-run shot off rookie Jeff Niemann, who was making his second career start. The next batter, Paul Konerko, homered to make it 4-0.The White Sox designated hitter tied Hall of Famer Mel Ott for 21st place on the all-time list with his fourth homer of the season, which hit an overhanging catwalk. Thome has reached base safely in all 26 games he has played at Tropicana Field."When it happens, it's a pretty cool thing," Thome said. "It's very humbling when you hear names of all those greats. When you start playing the game, you don't ever imagine being mentioned [with them]."The homer was estimated at 418 feet, but White Sox players thought it would have gone much farther had it missed the catwalk. Thome said it was one of his longest homers."That's right up there," he said. "I don't really know how far it went, but it felt pretty good."Vazquez (3-1) gave up two runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings for the White Sox, who have won 10 of their last 14 games. He struck out four with a walk."It was good to see everybody coming together," Vazquez said. "The hitters having great at-bats, putting pressure on the pitcher -- it was good to see after a tough loss yesterday."The White Sox have out-homered their opponents 24-5 this season.Chicago scored four more times in the fourth to extend its advantage to 8-0. Juan Uribe hit an RBI double, Orlando Cabrera had a run-scoring single, Konerko drove in a run when he was hit by a pitch and Jermaine Dye added a sacrifice fly.Niemann (1-1) allowed eight runs, five earned, and five hits in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out one and walked four."The walks definitely played a large part and just not making pitches," Niemann said. "I was pretty erratic tonight and I couldn't really get back in the zone."Uribe gave Chicago a 9-0 lead on a fifth-inning RBI single.Evan Longoria, who earlier in the day agreed to a $17.5 million, six-year contract that could be worth up to $44.5 million over nine seasons, had an RBI grounder in the sixth. Jonny Gomes added a run-scoring double that ended Vazquez's stretch of scoreless innings at 15."I had no problems with the effort. Vazquez was good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Rays ace Scott Kazmir (left elbow) allowed one run, one hit and struck out three over three innings in his first rehab start for Class-A Vero Beach. He could rejoin the team early next month. ... White Sox 3B Joe Crede was rested. Guillen might give several players a day off during the three-game series on artifical turf. ... Rays 1B Carlos Pena was out of the lineup with right hamstring tightness. He took batting practice and might DH Saturday.