Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011Posted: 10:52 p.m. Updated: Friday, Sept. 9, 12:16 a.m.
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Brent Morel is finding his power stroke.Morel hit two homers and Paul Konerko had a grand slam, lifting the Chicago White Sox to an 8-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.Morel hit a solo shot off Indians starter David Huff (2-4) in the third and a three-run homer off Frank Herrmann in the seventh - both on the first pitch. It was Morel's first career multi-homer game and his four RBIs were a career-high."I was fortunate enough to get a couple of good pitches there and I didn't miss them," Morel said.Three of Morel's five home runs this season have come in the last week."I would have liked to have hit a little bit better," Morel said. "I'm not really going to worry about it, just worry about finishing strong."Konerko's 10th career grand slam tied Robin Ventura's White Sox record and capped Chicago's seven-run seventh."I was just trying to get the ball up and get something out to the outfield," Konerko said. "Just one of those, he threw and I hit. You don't really know what you did."Gavin Floyd struck out four and held Cleveland to one run and five hits in 5 23 innings. Matt Thornton (1-4) retired all four batters he faced, striking out three.Huff gave up three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out five, as the Indians lost their fourth straight."You leave the ball up and these guys are going to hit it out," Huff said. "I told him (Hermann) to keep his head up and you'll probably be in there tomorrow or the next day and be ready to go."Both clubs were recently swept by first-place Detroit, giving the Tigers a commanding lead in the AL Central and virtually reducing this weekend's series into a battle for second place.Putting a further damper on a matchup that had lost its once-anticipated luster, a misty rain began to blow across the field during the top of the third and fell for much of the game.The small, subdued crowd at U.S. Cellular Field saved its biggest cheers for Cleveland's Jim Thome, whose RBI single in the first scored Asdrubal Cabrera for the game's first run.The White Sox honored Thome in a ceremony before the game in recognition of his 600th career homer, which he hit on Aug. 15. Thome, who played for Chicago from 2006 to 2009, also received a standing ovation before his first plate appearance."Last couple of weeks, this guy is swinging the bat a lot better," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "More power and most consistency. The ball is jumping off his bat right now."Morel tied the game with a homer to left-center in the bottom of third. Later in the inning, Juan Pierre singled for his 2,000th career hit, also earning a nice ovation as he tipped his cap. Pierre, 34, became the 268th big-leaguer to reach the milestone."Juan is probably consistent guy I've ever been around, as far as the way he comes to prepare every day to play," Konerko said.Despite holding the Indians to one run, Floyd fell behind a number of hitters working from a slippery mound, running up his pitch count. At one point in the sixth, he requested that the field crew come out and apply sand around the pitching rubber.Floyd departed after throwing 112 pitches, giving way to Will Ohman, who got Thome on an inning-ending grounder with a runner on first."You look up and you've got like 70 pitches in the third inning, you're kind of scratching your head," Guillen said. "In the meantime, sometimes you have to just (forget) that pitch count and go out there looking for zeroes. That's what he did."Huff pitched into the seventh, when he allowed a walk and a single to begin the inning. He struck out Tyler Flowers before giving way to Herrmann, whose first pitch Morel hammered into the left-field bleachers.Herrmann allowed a walk and a single before being replaced by Josh Judy, who hit Brent Lillibridge with a pitch and gave up Konerko's grand slam. The White Sox scored seven runs on just four hits in the inning.The White Sox's win was muted by the postgame news that Lillibridge suffered a broken bone in his right hand when he was hit and will miss the rest of the season.
NOTES: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said that RF Carlos Quentin (sprained left shoulder) will likely return to the lineup over the weekend. ... Cleveland rookie 2B Jason Kipnis, a Northbrook, Ill., native, singled in his first big-league game in his hometown. He was injured the last time the Indians were in Chicago. ... Indians manager Manny Acta said 1B Matt LaPorta would likely be back with the club in the "next couple of days." The former first-round pick was sent to Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 29 after struggling to a .238 average in 97 games. ... Cleveland's Jeanmar Gomez will square off against Chicago's Mark Buehrle on Friday. Buehrle allowed a season-high eight runs in his last outing.Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.