DETROIT — Marcus Semien was welcomed back into the White Sox dugout with smiles and slaps to his helmet after his first career grand slam Wednesday night to fuel a 6-4 Sox victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park.
On Thursday, the Sox will welcome back the player Semien helped replace during the first 22 games of the season.
With minor injuries to center fielder Adam Eaton and third baseman Conor Gillaspie, the Sox will bring back second baseman Gordon Beckham from his rehab stint in Double-A Birmingham. Beckham has played in 12 games for Birmingham while recovering from a strained left oblique.
To make room for Beckham, the Sox optioned left-handed pitcher Charlie Leesman to Triple-A Charlotte.
“We’re a little short-handed player wise,” said Sox manager Robin Ventura, who noted Sunday’s starter in place of Leesman is yet to be determined.
Semien and Leury Garcia have filled in at second base while Beckham was away, and they will stay with the Sox for now. Semien has made his case with several big hits, including three go-ahead home runs in the seventh inning or later this season.
His shot to left field on a 3-1 pitch from Tigers reliever Ian Krol gave the Sox a 6-4 lead in the seventh.
“The first two at-bats didn’t go my way, but you have to stick with it the whole way,” Semien said.
After notching career hit No. 2,300 in the first inning, Sox captain Paul Konerko added a seventh-inning single and a double in the eighth to break the Sox franchise record with 3,950 total bases, eclipsing Frank Thomas’ mark by one.
“You hear franchise lead, that’s cool,” Konerko said. “I’ll enjoy it more seven months from now and beyond. But it shows I got out there and played. You have to do well, but more than anything, you have to be on the field to do it. I always took pride in that.”
For the second night in a row, Sox first baseman Jose Abreu set the tone early with a first-inning home run to center field. His seventh of the season was good for a 2-0 lead and marked the most ever for a Sox player in the first 22 games of his career.
Sox right-hander Andre Rienzo took advantage of the offense to earn his first victory of 2014 after he was called up from Charlotte on Saturday to replace injured right-hander Felipe Paulino.
Rienzo limited their four runs in the fourth that included Austin Jackson’s two-run homer in his five-hit, 61/3-innings outing.
“(Rienzo) was mixing in his curveball,” Ventura said. “That’s a big pitch for him to get them off sitting slider and fastball. If he can get that over he’s a lot more effective. He just lost it for an inning and wasn’t able to get it in for a strike.”
Matt Lindstrom earned his third save dramatically. The Tigers put runners on second and third before the closer got Alex Avila to line out to Abreu to end it.
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