CHICAGO -- Patience truly was a virtue for the White Sox during their 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Royals on Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field, ending the team's seven-game home losing streak.
Although they stranded 12 base runners, and even with them finishing 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, the White Sox took advantage of Aaron Crow's seventh-inning wild streak to finish off a crucial victory.
"Wins are necessary," said White Sox first baseman Brent Lillibridge, who finished 1-for-4, and made two slick defensive plays to help preserve the victory. "Especially winning a game like this one, a close game, after struggling last night."
"Had we lost and had the rain delays and all this stuff, I don't know how we would have handled it for [Sunday's] game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The White Sox (59-60) dealt with a 1 hour, 25 minute rain delay before the first pitch and another 42-minute delay in the bottom of the eighth inning. In between, they watched a 2-0 lead courtesy of Paul Konerko's 27th homer and 392nd of his career in the third, turn into a two-run deficit in the fifth, thanks to Billy Butler's two-run single up the middle completing a four-run frame off of starter Jake Peavy.
It didn't take long for the White Sox to fight back against Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar (8-9). Tyler Flowers launched his first Major League home run to lead off the bottom of the fifth, cutting the deficit to one, and the offense forced across the game-deciding runs in the seventh.
Juan Pierre (3-for-4, two runs scored) singled and Omar Vizquel walked to open the frame, bringing Crow into the game. The Royals All-Star struck out Konerko, but then gave up a game-tying double to left off the bat of Carlos Quentin.
Alexei Ramirez walked to load the bases, and Alejandro De Aza drew a four-pitch free pass to bring home Vizquel.
"We take the walk to win the game. That's not White Sox baseball," said Guillen with a smile. "Taking a walk to win that's unusual, but it's something we needed."
"Guys were on base and I was trying to be too perfect instead of just making sure I threw strikes," Crow said. "I was just trying to make perfect pitches from the get-go and that's what happens when you try to be too fine."
Jesse Crain (7-3) picked up the win in relief of Peavy, who allowed four runs on nine hits over 6 2/3 innings, while striking out six. But Crain needed to pitch out of two tight jams to secure the victory.
Entering in the seventh with runners on first and second and two out, Crain induced an inning-ending popup to Lillibridge from the always dangerous Butler. Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur singled to open the eighth after the White Sox had claimed the one-run lead, and Crain threw two pitches out of the strike zone as Johnny Giavotella tried to bunt over the runners.
Giavotella was given the 2-0 green light and flew out to De Aza, with Salvador Perez hitting into a double play to end the threat. Chris Sale was perfect in the ninth for save No. 4, and the White Sox first home victory since July 29.
"I don't think we believe in that whole thing," said Flowers of the team's home woes, backed up by a dismal 25-33 record. "I think it's just been bad luck at home, that's just how it's been going. It's good to get it out of the way, so you guys [reporters] quit asking us. But this was definitely a big win for us."
"Just coming back here and getting a win, playing good baseball the whole night is big," Lillibridge said. "Hopefully finish it and win the series, and look to do that for the rest of the season."
Peavy didn't factor in the decision, although Flowers said the right-hander was aggressive, located well and was simply plagued by a few balls that squeaked through the infield.
"One of the better times I've seen him throw," said Flowers, who caught Peavy last Sunday during eight scoreless innings at Target Field.
"He had his stuff working and, obviously, we had a chance to win there," said Butler of Peavy. "We had the lead and we got him out of the game, so we honestly felt like we did what we had to do off of him."
And while Flowers' first home run, a 409-foot blast to center, didn't seal the victory, it literally shut down the Royals' momentum immediately.
"Yeah, it worked out well," said Flowers, who got the ball and the bat authenticated from his momentous plate appearance. "It probably wouldn't mean as much if we didn't get a win out of it, but it turned out to be great."
Ultimately, it was a couple of free passes that helped the White Sox finally shake hands at the end of a game played on home turf. Stellar defense and relief pitching beat the Royals, beat the rain and kept Guillen's crew five behind the Tigers and two behind the Indians in the American League Central.
"Everybody is swinging the bat pretty well and we were just able to grind it out," Lillibridge said. "They had a lot of balls drop, broken bats, and that usually means the game is going to be out of hand at one point. But Peavy did what he had to do and kept us in there. That double play was huge by Jesse, and it was a great win."