CHICAGO — Some hitters aren’t comfortable swinging at 3-0 pitches. Alexei Ramirez and Jose Abreu aren’t among them.
Ramirez hit a grand slam to fuel Chicago’s seven-run fourth inning and Jose Abreu hit his major league-leading 13th homer and drove in two runs — both homers came on 3-0 pitches — to lead the White Sox to a 9-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.
Ramirez’s blast was his sixth career grand slam and broke open a 2-2 tie.
“I was looking for a good pitch to connect, something that was over the plate,” he said through a translator. “That’s what I did and I was able to hit it.”
Abreu was the designated hitter because of a nagging left ankle injury. He went 3 for 4 and leads the AL with 37 RBIs. His blast to straight away center was estimated at 442-feet.
“You don’t see balls hit like that very much,” said White Sox bench coach Mark Parent, who filled in for manager Robin Ventura in the postgame news conference although Ventura managed.
“We’ll probably do the same thing tomorrow, DH him and try to get him a couple of days off on the road.”
Tyler Flowers also homered for the White Sox, who pounded out 15 hits.
Andre Rienzo (3-0) allowed three runs on four hits in 5 2-3 innings and the bullpen pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings.
Brandon McCarthy (1-6) allowed nine hits and seven runs — all in the fourth inning.
“I have no idea what happened; I really don’t know,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know if they changed their approach or just got super aggressive. I was throwing a lot of strikes, they just started jumping on everything.”
Arizona went up 2-0 on Gerardo Parra’s two-run homer in the third inning.
The lead appeared secure because McCarthy was cruising, retiring all nine batters he faced in the first three innings on a total of 33 pitches.
Things quickly turned in the bottom of the fourth.
Alejandro De Aza broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff double and scored on a single by the next batter, Gordon Beckham. Following Conor Gillaspie’s single, Abreu drove in Beckham with a single to tie the score at 2 and make it four straight hits.
Things were just getting started.
Following a strikeout by Adam Dunn for the first out, Dayan Viciedo singled to load the bases and Ramirez broke the game open by sending a drive into the left-field bullpen. The White Sox weren’t done as the next three batters singled. McCarthy, who threw 31 pitches in the fourth inning, was knocked from the game on the last of those hits, a run-scoring single by De Aza, to make it 7-2.
“Even looking back, they’re not terrible pitches, they’re not anything different than what I was doing the first three innings,” McCarthy said. “It’s just I don’t know, I don’t know how you get 9 hits out of 10 hitters, when I felt like I was doing the things I needed to do. I’m baffled at this point.”
The Chicago hitters weren’t baffled by anything in the fourth.
“The first time around, he was able to throw his sinker, he was able to throw his curveball efficiently,” Ramirez said. “The second time, I just kind of lay off of that stuff and that’s how I was able to get a good pitch. I think that’s what everybody else did.”
The Diamondbacks got a run back in the top of the fifth on a run-scoring single by A.J. Pollock.
Abreu then homered in the seventh to make it 8-3. Flowers had a leadoff homer in the eighth to close out the scoring.
NOTES: Chicago RHP Nate Jones, who’s been sidelined all season with a mysterious back injury, had surgery Monday to repair a pinched nerve. “It is a relief,” he said, “because after surgery I’m not feeling any pain in my hip.” Jones isn’t expected to begin baseball-related activity for four weeks, but expects to pitch this season. … Chicago manager Robin Ventura will miss Saturday’s game to attend the graduation of his daughter, Rachel, at Oklahoma State. Bench coach Mark Parent will manage. … LHP Wade Miley (2-3) faces Jose Quintana (1-2) in the second game of the series.
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