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CWS@CHC: Beckham belts a go-ahead homer to left

CHICAGO -- The White Sox were a tired team entering Friday's Interleague Play opener at Wrigley Field.

Playing two games in Anaheim and then flying across the country to take part in an afternoon affair in Chicago the next day will have that effect on a group of players.

But there's something about the Cubs-White Sox rivalry that re-energizes anyone involved. If not for the Cubs as an opponent on Friday, the White Sox might not have emerged with a 3-2 victory and then retreated back to their respective homes to get some much-needed sleep.

"It was a fun game, it really was," said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, who hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning off Jeff Samardzija. "It was a lot of energy today.

"We needed it. We were tired from coming off the plane and doing all that. It was kind of nice to have that energy. Without that energy, I don't know how well we would have done today. We were pretty worn out."

On top of sleep deprivation, the White Sox (19-21) also lost top hitter and captain Paul Konerko when he was hit in the left side of the face by a Samardzija pitch in the third inning. Konerko suffered a small laceration over his left eye and some ensuing swelling. He was going through further tests and would be re-evaluated after those results came back, so nothing official would be known until Saturday.

Samardzija was the first hitter in the bottom of the third, but White Sox manager Robin Ventura and White Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber elected not to retaliate. That moment appeared to come in the fourth, when Humber threw behind Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair and missed him. Both benches were warned by home-plate umpire Tim Timmons, but Ventura and Humber claimed after the victory that the pitch to LaHair simply was one that got away.

"If we wanted to do anything, we would have hit [Samardzija]," Ventura said. "It's just baseball. You just keep going."

One pitch that got away from Samardzija (4-2), or at least one he would like to have back, came against Beckham. The count stood at 2-2 with one out in the eighth, when Beckham connected with a splitter for his third home run.

Beckham made solid contact, with the wind blowing out to left providing an assist. That long ball came after Samardzija singled off reliever Matt Thornton (2-3) in the seventh to even the score at 2.

"I'm glad it came when it did," Beckham said. "It was just good to help the team win. That's what is important to me."

"We're fortunate that Gordon came through at the end and Phil kept us in the game and pitched well," said Adam Dunn, who started Friday's game in left field but finished at first base after Konerko's departure. "It was a fun game to be a part of."

Both teams scored in the first inning, with Konerko launching a two-run homer that scored Beckham ahead of him. Konerko's blast was his 55th in Interleague Play, leaving him only behind Jim Thome's 59 for the all-time lead, as well as representing the 404th of his career and 397th as part of the White Sox.

David DeJesus' double, Tony Campana's bunt single and Starlin Castro's long flyout to right-center scored the Cubs' first run in the opening frame off Humber. Castro's blast appeared to be knocked down by the wind blowing out to left.

Humber put together his second straight quality start, giving up just two runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He fanned three and walked two, while needing only 66 pitches.

"As a starting pitcher, that's the goal," Humber said. "Come in here and give the team a chance to win. I did that today."

Kerry Wood also pitched in his last game for the Cubs (15-24), striking out Dayan Viciedo on three pitches with one out and one on in the eighth, before exiting to a thunderous ovation and being replaced by James Russell. Wood, who drew applause from the White Sox as he departed, announced his retirement after the game.

"I love Kerry Wood. He had a tremendous career," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I wish he wouldn't have had the injuries he had, because he would have been one of the best ever. Classy guy, a guy I got to know over the last few years, playing against him, being around him. He was good for the game."

"That was one of those things where you wanted to win for [Wood]," said DeJesus. "He had an awesome career."

Thornton, Nate Jones and Addison Reed were good for the White Sox in relief on Friday. Thornton stranded the go-ahead run at third in the seventh inning by retiring DeJesus and Campana on one pitch each, and Jones threw a scoreless eighth.

Reed pitched around a two-out double by Darwin Barney that Alex Rios lost in the sun by striking out pinch-hitter Reed Johnson. It was Reed's fourth career save and probably his most exciting one.

"After he dropped it, I just focused on the next batter," Reed said. "I was amped up about this one. It was a lot of fun out there, but I was ready for it."

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