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04/17/07 11:48 PM ET
Homers carry Rangers on South Side
Wilkerson, Kinsler and Sosa go deep in rout
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- They booed Sammy Sosa at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night, just as they did in the good old days when he showed up here with the Chicago Cubs for those big Interleague games. Sosa responded with a brief vision of what it was like when he was really good with the Cubs. Brad Wilkerson probably had the biggest hit of the night with the 100th home run of his career. But Sosa had a key double to set up Ian Kinsler's three-run home run, then had his own three-run blast in the Rangers' 8-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. "Today was an exciting day, very exciting," Sosa said. "I got the job done tonight. You can't do anything about the fans, they control everything. So I just focused on what I had to do." The one piece of bad news for the Rangers is that Wilkerson had to leave the game with some soreness and discomfort in his left knee. He had a similar problem in Spring Training but said this wasn't as bad. Jerry Hairston replaced him on defense in the ninth inning. "I didn't want to do anything stupid running after a ball," Wilkerson said. "I'm not sure what it is. Every once in a while it feels like something is catching in there. We just want to get it calmed down." Wilkerson was limping around with a big ice pack on his knee and is not expected to play in Wednesday's game. But even as he dealt with his problem, he was able to appreciate the moment of Sosa's big home run in his return to Chicago. "That was awesome," Wilkerson said. "They tried to throw a fastball by him and he's just killing fastballs right now. To come back to Chicago and to hit one like that, I'm sure it's a relief to him." The home run, coming off reliever Mike MacDougal in the eighth, was Sosa's 591st of his career. Kinsler's was his seventh of the season and fifth in his last seven games, coming one day after he was named American League Player of the Week. He is now halfway to his total for all of last season. "Honestly, I don't know what it is," Kinsler said. "I'm feeling good and swinging good but the ball going out of the park, I don't know why that's happening. It's pretty fun. Like I said, I'm just trying to have good at-bats and the results are pretty good right now." The home runs provided more than enough aid and comfort to Rangers starter Robinson Tejeda, who held the White Sox to one run on three hits over seven innings and is now 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts. Tejeda had to carry the Rangers early as his offense managed just one double by Gerald Laird through the first four innings against White Sox starter Jon Garland. Jim Thome then put the White Sox ahead with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the fourth, the 475th of his career. That ties him with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 24th all-time. But on a night of momentous home runs, Wilkerson had the biggest when he a 2-1 pitch off Garland in the fifth inning and put it in the right-field seats to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. "It's a big hit for me personally, but it was even bigger for the team," Wilkerson said. "We've been struggling at the plate and to get a lead right there really helped Robinson." Tejeda responded by setting down the White Sox in order in the fifth and retiring nine of the last 11 batters he faced. "When your team scores some runs like that and gives you the lead, you think, 'Oh, I've got to win the game right here,'" Tejeda said. "It doesn't matter if it's a one-run lead or a four-run lead. That changes everything. They did their job and now I had to do my job." He did it well and left with a 5-1 lead after Kinsler's home run in the seventh. Sosa set up the home run with a one-out double, moving to third on a single by Hank Blalock. But Sosa had a bigger hit coming in the eighth inning and it came after White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen intentionally walked Mark Teixeira with two outs and a runner on second base. "I will walk Teixeira and pitch to Sammy Sosa every day this year," Guillen said. "I'm not scared of Sammy. As long as Teixeira hits in front of Sammy, he will walk a lot from Ozzie Guillen. I respect Sammy as a player and as a hitter. But right now, I'm facing Sammy Sosa and I'm not facing Teixeira. Teixeira is not going to beat me." Really it didn't matter. The Rangers already had this one locked up. But Sosa jumped on an 0-2 fastball and hit it 416 feet to right-center for a three-run home run. "I'm not going to lie to you, that was exciting," Sosa said. "It's like I said, you keep fighting up there and making adjustments and good things are going to happen. They're going to happen."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.