The first half was a bust for Paul Konerko, but he showed signs Saturday night that he can regain his old form.
Konerko broke out with a four-hit game and temporarily quelled some concerns as the White Sox held on for a 9-7 victory over the Rangers.
"I know at the end of the year the back of my baseball card isn't going to be one of my best years," said Konerko, who snapped a 2-for-15 slump and raised his batting average to .223. "But that's fine. I've had other good years and I'll have other ones. Mainly, [I want to come] up with guys on and just be a presence.
"Just be normal and a threat because we have a lot of threats in our lineup. We just want to add one more because the whole first half they played without me, in a way. I just want to do my part."
Konerko temporarily dowsed some of the concern surrounding him, especially after the Sox went 13-7 while he was on the disabled list because of a left oblique muscle strain.
Konerko's production highlighted a victory that saw John Danks (7-4) retire 14 consecutive batters before at least 40 family members and friends.
Other highlights were Jim Thome hitting his 525th career home run and All-Star Carlos Quentin getting a two-run, tie-breaking single in the sixth. Thome has raised his batting average from .229 to .246 in his last five games,
The victory kept the Sox 11/2 games ahead of Minnesota in the American League Central.
The Sox survived a scare when catcher A.J. Pierzynski had to leave the game in the fourth, one inning after a Kevin Millwood pitch nailed him on the left foot.
Pierzynski suffered a bruise and was listed as day-to-day, but the four-day All-Star break should provide ample time for him to heal.
They also survived Texas scoring five runs in the final two innings. Major-league RBI leader Josh Hamilton represented the tying run when he batted in the ninth, but second baseman Alexei Ramirez made an exceptional stop on a grounder and his throw barely retired Hamilton to end the game.
Manager Ozzie Guillen intimated before the game that he might be forced to revert to a lineup that featured Nick Swisher at first base and Dewayne Wise and Brian Anderson platooning in center field if Konerko didn't rebound at the start of the second half.
"I'm not the type of manager to give up on players just like that," Guillen said. "But in this situation, it's about winning. And right now we're winning without him hitting.
"Hopefully he starts hitting, but in my position, I have to do what I have to do. I'm not going to do it right away. I have to wait because I respect my players and have confidence in them."
Konerko reinforced Guillen's faith in him, capped by his home run in the eighth off Kameron Loe that extended the Sox's lead to 8-2.
"Everyone was glad to see that happen," Guillen said of Konerko's first four-hit game since Sept. 13, 2006, against the Los Angeles Angels. "It cleared his mind a little bit coming into [Sunday] and hopefully carrying on after the All-Star break."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun