NEW YORK—Coping with subpar production and three nagging injuries, Paul Konerko realized long ago his 2008 season was lost from a statistical standpoint.
But he pointed out two months ago that it could be salvaged with clutch hits, such as the double he provided Tuesday night during a three-run fourth-inning rally that vaulted the White Sox to a 6-2 victory at Yankee Stadium, moving them 21/2 games ahead of the Twins, who lost 12-9 in Cleveland.
Konerko's return after missing five games because of a right knee sprain appeared to invigorate the Sox.
"I felt good," said Konerko, who wore a brace. "I just tried to get going early. Usually you try to see some pitches when you have been out for a few games. My swing felt all right. I just felt like the first good pitch I was going to get in any of the at-bats, I wanted to get off on that. I didn't try to give it too much thought. I felt like I did seven days ago, which is good."
Despite the layoff, the team captain managed to keep his swing sharp, as he is now hitting .391 with three home runs over his last 13 games.
Konerko's double was the third straight hit off Andy Pettitte (13-14), who fell to 1-7 with a 6.45 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The Sox received production throughout the lineup. Leadoff batter Orlando Cabrera and Brian Anderson hit consecutive two-out doubles in the seventh. In the eighth, No. 8 hitter Juan Uribe highlighted his three-hit game by ripping a two-out double to score A.J. Pierzynski.
Uribe has a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .333 over his last 32 games. He's hitting .316 as a third baseman.
The offense provided ample support for Gavin Floyd, who threw a season-high 116 pitches in seven innings even though he is scheduled to pitch Saturday night in Kansas City on short rest.
Floyd (16-7) appeared taxed during a 31-pitch fifth inning but struck out Jason Giambi during a 12-pitch at-bat with the bases loaded to end the threat.
"I think that's when this kid started to be a man," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He didn't give in. He just made his pitch and won the battle."
"… He has been great all year. He has been consistent and has thrown great games. To me, he's the ace we've had all year long."
After the game, the Sox announced left-hander Clayton Richard will start Wednesday night.
Richard hasn't pitched since getting tagged for five runs in four innings of an 8-2 loss to Toronto on Sept. 9.
But the Sox are aware that the Yankees are 21-22 in games against left-handed starters.
Richard did pitch here in July in the Futures Game featuring the top prospects in baseball. He got the start and pitched one inning.
Also, left-hander John Danks will be available in relief Wednesday night.
His next start is scheduled for Sunday in Kansas City.
He threw 95 pitches Sunday against Detroit. The Sox have aligned their rotation so that Javier Vazquez, Mark Buehrle and Floyd will pitch in Minnesota next week.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun