A.J. Pierzynski tries to etch his name in the Chicago White Sox record books when they open a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals this evening at U.S. Cellular Field.
Pierzynski made it five straight games with a home run on Sunday, as his two- run blast in the seventh inning helped the White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-2, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
The veteran catcher came on as a pinch-hitter in the seventh with the score tied at 2-2 a runner on first. He smacked Jason Isringhausen's offering over the wall in right-center field to put Chicago in front.
Pierzynski tied the franchise record for consecutive games with a home run. Paul Konerko accomplished the feat from June 17-21, 2011.
"Of course, of course. Just waiting for the right time to unleash him," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura with a laugh about knowing Pierzynski would homer. "He's as strong as anybody, so when he hits it, it's going to go."
Pierzynski, whose 21 homers are a career high, has helped a White Sox team that is third in the majors with 134 homers after hitting eight in the series against the Angels, and Chicago has 16 in its last six home games.
"I'm not supposed to be doing this, so just ride it out as long as you can, enjoy it and have fun with it," said Pierzynski.
Kevin Youkilis added a solo homer for the White Sox, who won their fourth consecutive series.
Chicago starter Francisco Liriano gave up one run on four hits over five innings before leaving with a right quad contusion. He was hit by a Maicer Izturis grounder in the fifth. Nate Jones (5-0) allowed one run on four hits over two innings of relief to pick up the win.
Getting the call tonight for the White Sox will be lefty Chris Sale.
In keeping with the White Sox policy of watching the first-year starter's innings total, Sale hasn't pitched since beating Texas back on July 27. He struggled in that one, though, as he allowed five runs and six hits in 6 1/3 frames, but still improved to 12-3 to go along with a 2.61 ERA.
"Fortunately for us we swung the bats," Sale said after that game. "I was fortunate enough to hold them, but (the offense) won the game for us."
Sale beat the Royals the last time he faced them and is 2-3 with a 2.96 ERA in 13 games (2 starts) against Kansas City.
Kansas City will counter with righty Luis Mendoza, who is 5-7 with a 4.32 ERA. Mendoza beat the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, holding them to two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Mendoza lost to Sale and the White Sox back on July 15 and is 3-2 with a 4.26 ERA in six games (4 starts) against them.
Kansas City salvaged the finale of their three-game set with the Texas Rangers on Sunday, as Eric Hosmer crossed the plate with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to carry the Royals to a 7-6 win.
Facing Michael Kirkman (0-2), Kansas City's Billy Butler drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 10th and the Rangers' defense crumbled from there. Salvador Perez followed and poked a tailor-made double-play ball to shortstop, but the ball was booted by Alberto Gonzalez.
With runners on first and second, Jeff Francoeur slapped a ball to third, where rookie Mike Olt went to second for the force play but fired the ball high into right field, allowing Hosmer to score the winning run as a pinch- runner.
Greg Holland (5-3) earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief work for the Royals, who snapped a brief two-game skid.
Francoeur ripped a solo home run and Brayan Pena added a two-run long ball in the victory.
Tonight the Royals open a seven-game road trip, though. They have lost their last five and 14 of 17 away from home.
Kansas City has split its six games with the White Sox this season.