CHICAGO – Paul Konerko hit two home runs and Gavin Floyd pitched eight masterful innings Sunday as the Chicago White Sox beat the slumping Tampa Bay Rays 6-1.
Konerko's solo homers in the first and fifth innings gave him three on the season. He has a 10-game hitting streak dating back to last year and has driven in a run in all but one game for Chicago this year.
The loss dropped the Rays to 1-8, the worst start to a season in franchise history. Tampa Bay has scored 11 runs in its eight losses, and put nine runs on the board in its only win.
Floyd (1-0) struck out eight, allowing just four hits and one unearned run. He retired 16 of the first 18 batters he faced. Floyd allowed a one-out double to Matt Joyce in the second, but then retired the next 12 Rays.
Sam Fuld broke Floyd's streak with a double in the sixth, and Johnny Damon followed with a single. With runners on first and third, Floyd caught Damon trying to steal second, but his wild throw ended up in center field, allowing Fuld to score.
Dan Johnson then hit a grounder to first, which deflected off Konerko's glove. Gordon Beckham recovered and threw to Floyd, who dropped the ball while removing it from his glove.
First base umpire Doug Eddings called Johnson safe, but after White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen came out to dispute the call, the umps convened and reversed it, prompting a visit from Rays manager Joe Maddon, who argued vehemently and was ejected by Eddings.
Jeff Niemann (0-2) only made it 46 pitches into his second start of the season. He allowed five runs on five hits over 2 2-3 innings. Three of the runs charged to him were earned.
The White Sox established their offense early, courtesy of two first-inning home runs. Beckham drove a 1-0 pitch off the top of the left field wall that bounced over for his second of the year, and two batters later, Konerko launched the first pitch he saw 379 feet into the left field seats.
In the second, Brent Morel knocked in Mark Teahen with an RBI double, then came around to score on Juan Pierre's single, extending the lead to 4-0.
A.J. Pierzynski chased Niemann in the third inning with an RBI single. Andy Sonnanstine came on in relief, retiring five of six batters until Konerko came to the plate in the fifth, sending a 2-1 pitch over the bullpen in left field.
Sonnanstine allowed just three hits over the last 5 1-3 innings for the Rays, Konerko's long ball the lone blemish on his day.
NOTES: Rays 3B Felipe Lopez was not in the lineup, a day after a confrontation with Pierzynski. Lopez maintained his innocence after hitting a ninth inning home run Saturday, flipping his bat in the direction of White Sox LHP Chris Sale. Maddon said he hopes to talk to Guillen about the incident to make sure there are no lingering issues. "That's not who we are," Maddon said of the bat flip. "We don't do that here." White Sox DH Adam Dunn (appendicitis) took batting practice Sunday and according to Guillen, should have a clear timetable for his return by Monday. Dunn had surgery on Tuesday and was originally expected to miss five games White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez received his Silver Slugger award before the game Sunday, but was not in the lineup. LHP Mark Buehrle was honored with his second Gold Glove.