CLEVELAND -- Not often is the suggested remedy to a team’s woes a leadoff-home run by the opposition.
But White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks Michael Bourn’s first-pitch homer off Jake Peavy on Sunday afternoon gave both his pitcher and his team the motivation necessary to shed their losing ways.
Peavy bounced back and struck out 11 batters without a walk and Paul Konerko and Alejandro De Aza homered as the White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians in front of 11,682 at Progressive Field. Matt Thornton and Addison Reed then helped close out the White Sox (5-7) first victory in six games on this road trip, which continues Monday with the start of a four-game series in Toronto.
“He bared down,” Ventura said. “It wakes you up a little quick and it’s what we needed too.”
Peavy didn’t believe Bourn would offer at the first pitch of the game and tried to sneak an 88-mph four-seam fastball past him for an inside strike. But Bourn --- who later exited with a left-hand contusion --- blasted it 390 feet to right field for a 1-0 Cleveland lead.
Knowing how much the White Sox needed a victory, Peavy said he tried to get over his only mistake quick. The right-hander -- who limited Cleveland to a run and five hits over seven innings --- did just that as he struck out the side in the first inning and fanned two batters each in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
Other than the first inning, Peavy, who threw strikes on 75 of 104 pitches, never allowed more than one man to reach base in any frame. It was the 32nd time in Peavy’s career he has struck out 10 or more batters and the third game in which he achieved the feat without walking a batter.
“We needed to win,” Peavy said. “We understood that. I know I needed to come up with a big effort. We were focused and had a good game plan. To start the game like that after what we’ve been through wasn’t ideal, for sure. But I definitely knew I needed to bare down and keep it right there.”
Konerko followed Peavy’s lead and delivered the big hit the White Sox had missed over the last week.
With two out in the sixth inning, Konerko followed a walk to Adam Dunn with a two-run homer to left off Brett Myers to put the White Sox ahead for good.
Up until that point, the White Sox had little success against their former teammate even though he’d yielded seven homers in his first 10 1/3 innings. Two innings later, De Aza added an insurance run when he ended a seven-pitch at-bat against Pestano with a 410-foot homer to right, his third.
“It was good today to do something that actually mattered within the game,” Konerko said. “It was nice to get Jake a win. He pitched really well today. He shut down a team that swung the bats really well yesterday. It was a big outing and it was nice to get him a win there."
Peavy was just as impressed with Konerko’s performance. The homer was the 47 th of Konerko’s career against the Indians. Konerko only has more homers against the Minnesota Twins (48). Peavy figures the blast should help an offense that has struggled to hit with runners in scoring position get back on track.
“We hadn’t been able to do that,” Peavy said. “It’s not like we’ve been getting boat-raced every night. We knew it was a matter of time.”