Return punch: Pierzynski's 3-run HR in 9th beats Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) -- This time, A.J. Pierzynski landed the big hit.

Pierzynski's three-run homer off closer Ryan Dempster capped a
two-out rally in the ninth and lifted the Chicago White Sox over
the Chicago Cubs 8-6 Saturday.

The Cubs led 6-5 when Ross Gload singled on a slow roller that
deflected off Dempster's calf. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno was unable to
barehand it, and Jermaine Dye walked. That brought up Pierzynski,
who knocked a 1-1 pitch out to right for his fifth homer, and the
White Sox won for the 13th time in 15 games.

The game was delayed for about five minutes after Pierzynski's
homer when agitated Cubs fans pelted the field with debris. The
grounds crew at Wrigley Field cleaned up the cups, plastic bottles
and other items before the game resumed.

Pierzynski barreled over Cubs catcher Michael Barrett on May 20
at U.S. Cellular Field. Barrett responded by grabbing Pierzynski
and punching him in the face, setting off a bench-clearing brawl.

This time, Pierzynski showed no mercy on a hanging slider.

"It was nice. At same time it's just one game, just one win,"
he said. "But for all the stuff I've been through this weekend and
everything that has gone on, it was kind of nice."

For Dempster and the Cubs, it was just more agony.

The blown save was the fifth in 17 chances for Dempster (1-5),
and the Cubs have lost eight of nine.

"It's really embarrassing to go out there and perform the way I
did after a good game like that," Dempster said. "To sit there
and make mistakes like that, it's a tough pill to swallow. I'm a
big boy, I'll get over it. But I don't want to sit here and give
another interview (saying), 'It was tough, I'll get over it, and
I'll bounce back.' I'm sick of doing those and I'm embarrassed that
I've had to do as many as I've had to do."

Neal Cotts (1-2) got the final out of the eighth for the win,
and Bobby Jenks pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 26

Jacque Jones hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning
for the Cubs, and Aramis Ramirez drove in five runs.

Jones hit his 14th homer off reliever David Riske with two out
in the seventh, after the White Sox's Paul Konerko tied it at 5
with a pinch-hit home run leading off the top half.

Ramirez hit a three-run homer off Javier Vazquez in the fifth to
give the Cubs a 5-3 lead. He also had a two-run double off the
left-field wall in the first and a triple into the right-field
corner in the third.

The last Cub to hit for the cycle was Mark Grace on May 9, 1993,
against San Diego.

Jim Thome hit a two-run drive in the fifth for his American
League-leading 26th homer and Pierzynski and Joe Crede had three
hits each for the White Sox.

Crede hit his 15th homer -- a solo shot off Greg Maddux in the
sixth -- to cut the Cubs' lead to 5-4. Maddux allowed four runs and
10 hits in six innings but did not figure in the decision after
losing his previous three starts.

Nor did the White Sox's Javier Vazquez, who had another rough
time after allowing a season-high nine runs in six-plus innings in
his previous outing against Houston. Vazquez gave up five runs and
11 hits in six innings against the Cubs before he was lifted for
the pinch-hitting Konerko.

The slugger connected on a 3-2 pitch from Scott Eyre for his
20th homer of the season. It was the second pinch-hit homer of
Konerko's career and his first since July 2, 2003, against

The Cubs regained the lead. Then, Pierzynski connected.

"It was a great at-bat by Gload, also a good at-bat by Dye,"
manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's what the game is all about.
When I saw A.J. I thought something special could happen here."

Game notes
RHP Kerry Wood will play catch and long toss over the next
week as the Cubs try once again to get their injury-plagued starter
ready to return to the mound. Wood began the season on the disabled
list, made four starts and then went back to the DL after the
shoulder began troubling him. He had surgery last August. On
Monday, Wood went to see the Cincinnati doctor who did the
operation and underwent bio-mechanical testing that showed he had a
muscle imbalance in the shoulder. "We're definitely going to have
to go backward as far as his endurance. There is no question about
it," trainer Mark O'Neal said Saturday. "I'd say he's probably
got a week's work of playing catch and long toss before we even
think about doing anything on the mound." ... Ramirez's five RBI
were one shy of a career high. ... Guillen said he expects to be
criticized when All-Star selections are announced Sunday because,
as usual, there will be some deserving players left off the AL
roster. "I'm going to take the heat. But I don't pick this team
myself," Guillen said. "One thing you have to remember, I have to
pick the best guys to win the game." The league that wins the
All-Star game will have home field advantage in the World Series
and that was a big plus for the White Sox last year when they won
the first two games at home against the Astros.