Turns out Paul Konerko had a parting gift for the Cubs, too.
The retiring slugger, who made perhaps his final start against his crosstown rivals, delivered a bases-clearing double and the White Sox downed the Cubs 8-3 on Wednesday night in front of 21,075 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Gordon Beckham also had a three-run homer and John Danks (3-2) struck out eight as the White Sox improved to 18-17 with their fourth straight victory. The White Sox send Scott Carroll to the mound against Jake Arrieta on Thursday night in search of a sweep of the four-game series.
“I was top step,” Beckham said of Konerko’s fifth-inning double. “Proud of dad. I was happy for him. He hasn’t had as much playing time. But he knew what he signed up for and I think that him coming through like that is a product of being around a bunch of guys that want each other to do well and are pulling for each other.”
Thursday can’t come fast enough for the Cubs, who will never have to face Konerko again. On Tuesday the North Siders presented their Crosstown tormenter with the No. 14 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard.
Over the weekend, Konerko said he was excited about the prospect of one last meeting with his North Side rivals even though he believes the May scheduling to be weird.
But Konerko has plenty of memories created by the rivalry and its only fitting he added one more to the list.
Having lined out to deep center in his previous at-bat, Konerko came up with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning and the White Sox ahead 4-3.
Konerko, who hadn’t started since April 27 and has only seven starts this season, ripped an 86-mph cut-fastball from Travis Wood into the left-field corner for a three-run double and a 7-3 lead.
Konerko entered Wednesday with two RBIs in 35 plate appearances.
“He’s been doing that his whole career, so I don’t think that’s anything new,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s nice for him to be able to do something like that with limited at-bats and still be able to come in and come through like that. I think he gets a charge out of that.”
In 75 games against the Cubs, Konerko, who also walked and doubled again in four trips to the plate, has a .300/.361/.592 slash line with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs in 288 plate appearances.
Though the rivalry’s atmosphere isn’t as intense as it once was, Konerko said he appreciates the extra energy provided by the crowds.
“Our fans care a lot about how we do against the Cubs,” Konkero said. “I would venture to say more than their fans care about how they do against us. I’ve never taken that lightly. I’ve known that from the beginning so I’ve always tried to show up in these games and do well.”
The White Sox fared well against Wood (2-4), especially after he was struck by a broken-bat on Moises Sierra’s one out-single in the fourth inning. Wood walked the next two batters he faced -- though Marcus Semien would be picked off first -- before Beckham ripped a 1-0 pitch into the center field bleachers for a three-run homer and a 4-1 lead.
The White Sox scored in the first inning when Jose Abreu, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs, doubled, Dayan Viciedo walked and Alexei Ramirez had an RBI single.
Those three reached against Wood in the fifth to set up Konerko’s big blow.
“Everybody wants him to do as well as possible,” Beckham said. “He’s not getting in there a ton. … Everything that he’s ever had in his whole life, he’s having to do the opposite because he’s really a creature of habit. For him not to play and then still go out there and be successful, I think it’s actually good for him to realize he doesn’t need a routine or anything else. He’s just that good.”