DETROIT – On the night he became the franchise’s career leader in total bases, Paul Konerko liked what he saw from some of the younger White Sox.
Marcus Semien’s seventh-inning grand slam lifted the Sox over the Detroit Tigers, 6-4, Wednesday night. It was the first career grand slam for the 23-year-old Semien, and it turned a two-run deficit into a two-run lead.
“Everybody I think is buying into catering your at-bat to the situation,” Konerko said. “I think everybody’s really done a good job of ... having an awareness of where things are at in the game, the scoreboard, what the guy’s trying to do to me.”
Konerko had three hits for the Sox, including an eighth-inning double that moved him past Frank Thomas atop the team’s career total bases list. Jose Abreu hit another long home run for the Sox, but it was Semien’s slam that turned around the game.
Detroit starter Drew Smyly allowed two runs in six innings, but Evan Reed (0-1) gave up two singles and a walk, and Ian Krol allowed the home run to Semien on a 3-1 pitch.
“He missed a couple up on me, and one of them I check swung, but that one was a little lower, and just got extended,” Semien said.
Andre Rienzo (1-0) gave up four runs in the fourth inning, but kept the Tigers quiet otherwise in his first start this season. He allowed five hits and two walks in 61⁄3 innings, striking out three.
Matt Lindstrom pitched the ninth for his third save, but it wasn’t easy. He allowed a single, a walk and two deep flyouts before retiring Alex Avila on a line drive to first with runners on second and third.
Austin Jackson homered for Detroit.
With the Tigers ahead 4-2 in the seventh, Reed allowed a leadoff single to Konerko. Alejandro De Aza singled one out later, then Reed walked Tyler Flowers and was pulled. Krol retired Jordan Danks on a popup, but Semien followed with a drive to left that cleared the bases.
“I threw a 3-1 fastball up in the zone, which is pretty much the exact pitch guys want to see on 3-1,” Krol said. “I thought about throwing a changeup, but I didn’t want to walk him. As it turned out, walking him would have been a much better move.”
Abreu opened the scoring in the first with a two-run shot, reaching the bushes beyond the wall in center field at Comerica Park for the second time this series. Smyly was impressive after that; he would end up yielding six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
Rienzo gave up the lead in the fourth, allowing a two-run single to J.D. Martinez and Jackson’s two-run homer to left-center. But the Tigers had only one more runner against Rienzo after the homer. The 25-year-old right-hander from Brazil had pitched only one inning this season, but Rienzo got the start Wednesday with Chicago starters Chris Sale and Felipe Paulino both injured.
The 38-year-old Konerko raised his average to .217 with his big day at the plate, and he now leads the White Sox with 3,950 total bases, one more than Thomas.
“Any time you hear ‘franchise lead’ or something like that, that’s cool,” Konerko said. “It shows I got out there and played. You’ve got to do well, but more than anything, you have to be out on the field to do it, so I’ve always took pride in that.”
With one on in the ninth, Martinez came within a few feet of tying the game, but his drive off Lindstrom was caught in front of the wall in center near the 420-foot marker. After a walk to Jackson, both runners moved up on Nick Castellanos’ flyout to deep right. Avila then swung at a 3-0 pitch, and his liner was caught by Abreu, who was guarding the line at first.
NOTES: The White Sox optioned LHP Charlie Leesman to Triple-A Charlotte after the game. Second baseman Gordon Beckham (strained left oblique) is expected to return from his rehab Thursday. ... Abreu’s homer was his seventh this year. ... Danks made a diving catch in center field in the second to retire Jackson. ... The Tigers will play a split doubleheader against Cleveland on July 19 to make up for an April 15 postponement in Detroit. ... Tigers RHP Max Scherzer (1-1) faces Chicago LHP Jose Quintana (1-0) in Thursday’s series finale.