Rapid Reaction: Nationals 8, White Sox 7
April, 9, 2013
By Todd Karpovich | ESPNChicago.com
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche each hit two-run homers off Jake Peavy in the sixth inning and a late rally by the Chicago White Sox fell short in an 8-7 loss to the Washington Nationals in the first game of their interleague series Tuesday night.
How it happened: Both the White Sox and Nationals are adept at hitting home runs and that was the difference in the game. Washington starter Gio Gonzalez only allowed a run on four hits and the White Sox got a break when he left after the fifth. Paul Konerko did most of the damage with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the sixth and a three-run homer in the seventh. However, Werth's third RBI off a single and LaRoche's second homer allowed the Nationals to pull away for their fifth win in seven games. White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham left the game at the end of the second inning with nerve irritation in his left wrist and is listed as day-to-day. White Sox right fielder Alex Rios homered for the fourth consecutive game in the ninth to cut the margin to one.
What it means: The White Sox hit a speed bump with their dominance in interleague play, falling to 163-121 all-time, second only to the Yankees. The Sox also lost for only the ninth time in 31 games in National League parks. Nonetheless, the Sox still have an opportunity to win their 13th consecutive interleague series if they can pick up victories in their final two games in Washington.
Outside the box: Home runs have been the key for the White Sox offense and Konerko provided a spark with a three-run homer in the seventh to cut Washington's lead to 6-5. So far this season, 20 of the White Sox’s 29 runs have come via the long ball. However, the Nationals' Gonzalez, who was the first lefty starter the White Sox faced this season, kept hitters off-balance with a mix of fastballs and curves. The White Sox had much more success against the Nationals' bullpen, managing six runs and seven hits. Still, the White Sox might have to do a better job of manufacturing runs on nights where they suffer from a power outage.
Off beat: Third baseman Jeff Keppinger snapped out of an 0-for-19 skid with a one-out, first-inning single. The hit helped the White Sox load the bases and eventually score the game's first run on a balk. Keppinger also picked up another single in the seventh and is now batting .115 on the season. Keppinger, who was signed as a free agent in December, is expected to solve the White Sox problems in finding an efficient No. 2 hitter. Last season, White Sox hitters batted only .221 from that spot. Keppinger is a proven commodity with a lifetime .288 average after breaking into the majors in 2004 with the Mets. Last season, he set a career-high with nine home runs and led Tampa Bay with a .325 average. If Keppinger begins to heat up, it will bode well for Chicago's ability to manufacture runs as opposed to relying on homers, where they are tied for second with Minnesota in the American League with 11.
Up next: The White Sox will play the second game of the three-game series Wednesday against the Nationals. White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd (0-1, 3.00), who grew up in nearby Annapolis, Md. and should have a large contingent of family and friends in the stands, will face Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 1.50)