SEATTLE – While Paul Konerko is limited to DH duty for the Chicago White Sox because of a leg injury, former Jackson High School star Brent Lillibridge has been his replacement at first base much of the past month.
Friday night at Safeco Field, Lillibridge made like the power-hitting Konerko and won a game with his bat. His two-run home run in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie and gave the White Sox a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
The 27-year-old Lillibridge, in his first full major league season, has been on a bit of a home-run tear this month. He has hit five of his 12 home runs this season in the past 15 games after going without a homer from June 4 through Aug. 5.
The Mariners had just tied the score with a run in the bottom of the fourth when Lillibridge batted with Juan Pierre on first base and nobody out in the fifth.
On the third pitch he saw in the at-bat from Mariners left-hander Charlie Furbush, Lillibridge drove a 1-1 fastball well over the left-center-field fence and into the Mariners’ bullpen. It measured 419 feet.
“I was just trying to get on base and he left the ball right over the middle,” said Lillibridge, who went 1 for 5 and struck out three times. “I feel like it was one of the only pitches I got to hit today and I was able to hit it hard, and over the fence again.”
As Lillibridge crossed home plate, several of his family and friends cheered amid an otherwise quiet crowd.
“It was big. It was exciting,” he said. “All my family and friends get to see it and stuff. It was fun. You grow up watching games here, 20 games a year, every year as a fan of the Mariners and I’m able to hit one here out of the park against my favorite team. It’s something special. I won’t forget it.”
The Mariners managed 10 hits off White Sox starter Jake Peavy and three relievers, but never the one big swing that could end their frustration.
Miguel Olivo homered to lead off the bottom of the second inning and Trayvon Robinson blooped an RBI single in the fourth to tie the score at 2.
But after that, the Mariners did little but put runners on base and leave them there.
Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez grounded into outs to end the fourth with two runners on. The Mariners wasted Dustin Ackley’s leadoff single in the fifth and also left the bases loaded in seventh.
After Ichiro’s leadoff single in the ninth, Chris Sale retired the next three to end the game.
The Mariners left 11 runners on base and went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
Furbush, starting his sixth game since the Mariners acquired him in a July 30 trade from the Tigers, struggled throughout his five innings but minimized the damage until Lillibridge’s home run.
“He had real good stuff,” manager Eric Wedge said of Furbush, who’s 2-3 with a 6.48 ERA with the M’s.
Ichiro went 2 for 5, bumping his average two points to .273. He needs 52 hits in the final 32 games to reach the 200-hit mark for the 11th straight season.
|De Aza rf||4||0||0||0||0||2||.297|
E—Robinson (3). LOB—Chicago 9, Seattle 11. 2B—Rios (22), Seager (6). HR—Lillibridge (12), Olivo (16). RBIs—Lillibridge 2 (26), Rios (32), Al.Ramirez (54), Olivo (53), Robinson (8). SB—Pierre (22), I.Suzuki (33). CS—Flowers (1). S—Pierre. RLISP—Chicago 6, Seattle 7. GIDP—Carp. DP—Chicago 1.
|Peavy W, 6-6||6||7||2||2||3||8||4.93|
|Thornton H, 16||2/3||2||0||0||0||2||3.33|
|Crain H, 16||11/3||0||0||0||1||3||2.30|
|Sale S, 5-6||1||1||0||0||0||2||2.61|
|Furbush L, 3-6||5||6||4||4||2||4||4.87|
IR-S—Crain 2-0. PB—Olivo. T—3:06. A—28,621 (47,878).