CHICAGO (AP) — Chad Qualls needed no reminders when he came in from the bullpen Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.
In the same park, the Astros’ reliever had given up first-pitch grand slams to Paul Konerko in the 2005 World Series and to Joe Crede a year ago when Houston faced the Chicago White Sox in interleague play.
On Saturday, Qualls got some payback. He got the final four outs, striking out Rob Mackowiak for the final one with the tying run on third as the Astros beat the reeling White Sox 3-2.
“Obviously, I’m really loved here by the fans. You get a bunch of grief out there in the bullpen. It’s nice to throw the zeros up on them and get the team a win, and kind of show everybody that I'm better than that,” Qualls said.
Fans in Chicago will never forget his home run pitch to Konerko in the World Series that eventually ended in a White Sox sweep. Neither will he.
“They’ll remember that until probably the day I retire,” Qualls said. “It’s just part of going on the road, heckling and everything else. I love it. They definitely won’t let me forget.”
Lance Berkman hit an RBI single in the top of the ninth Saturday as Houston recovered after blowing a late 2-0 lead by collecting three hits off Chicago closer Bobby Jenks.
“In a situation where we were battling back, it makes it so much more painful,” Jenks said. “I would rather have them go out and bang a couple off the wall instead of an inning like that.”
The White Sox have lost 12 of 14. The Astros, also struggling this season, have their first two-game winning streak since taking four straight from May 12-16.
Adam Everett singled off third baseman Josh Fields’ glove leading off the ninth against Jenks (2-2) and moved to third on a one-out single by Mark Loretta.
Berkman, who is playing while appealing a two-game suspension handed out Friday for his actions following an ejection last Tuesday in Colorado, then dumped an opposite-field single to left for a 3-2 lead.
“I was looking for the ball, because it was almost impossible to see with those shadows. Obviously you’re trying to get something up that you can elevate it a little bit and try to drive that run in,” Berkman said. “He jammed me pretty good, but, like I said, I was just pleased to make contact in that situation.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Qualls walked Juan Uribe, who moved to second on a sacrifice and to third on a grounder before Mackowiak struck out.
After another frustrating loss in a season that is quickly slipping away, the White Sox had a players-only meeting to hash some things out.
“I feel if you’re having chats, something’s not right,” Chicago starter Jon Garland said. “Some things were said that needed to be said.”
White Sox DH Jim Thome hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 2-2.