Matsui homers in debut; Rays lose second straight

Matsui homers in debut; Rays lose second straight

Matsui homers in debut; Rays lose second straight
ST. PETERSBURG -- Hideki Matsui is already paying off for the Rays, but he wasn't enough to stop the red-hot White Sox.

The Japanese slugger launched a home run over the right-field fence in the fourth inning, but Chicago's bats were better in a 7-2 White Sox victory Tuesday at Tropicana Field. Matsui went 1-for-4 in his season debut, just hours after arriving from Triple-A Durham.

Dayan Viciedo led the way for the White Sox with three hits, three runs and two RBIs, and Alexei Ramirez added another two hits and two RBIs in the win. Starting pitcher Philip Humber picked up his second win by going seven innings with five strikeouts, allowing two runs on just five hits and a walk.

"Everything was well placed but they were good at-bats," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the White Sox lineup. "They don't give in, and they don't punch out in crucial moments. They did a nice job, and their pitcher was really good. I know his numbers have been bad this year, but he's pitched well against us in the past and he did well again today."

Scoring opened in the bottom of the fourth inning after James Shields and Humber breezed through the opposing lineups. Matt Joyce led off with a walk before Ben Zobrist struck out and Luke Scott hit a fly ball to right field. On the first pitch he saw, Matsui delivered a towering shot to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.

"It was nice to hit the home run," Matsui said. "We lost the game, but from a personal standpoint, it was nice to be able to get that first home run in that moment. ... I think, overall, everything was pretty good from my standpoint."

Chicago responded in the top of the fifth, however, when Viciedo led off with a bloop single to center field. Shields attempted to pick off Viciedo, but first baseman Carlos Pena couldn't handle it and Viciedo advanced to third on a throwing error. Ramirez singled him in to close the gap to 2-1.

The high-powered White Sox, who won their seventh straight, took off in the next inning when Adam Dunn started things with a leadoff walk. Paul Konerko struck out for the third time before Alex Rios recorded his second single. A.J. Pierzynski tied up the game when he singled in Dunn.

"I hate facing [Shields] because he's good. You know you're going to get three tough pitches," Pierzynski said. "I'm sure he hates me getting a hit off him, and I hate making outs off of him. It's fun to face him. He's a great pitcher, he's an All-Star guy, a big-game guy. He wants the ball in big situations."

Viciedo followed with a single that scored Rios, and Ramirez doubled home Pierzynski to make it 4-2. Shields said after the game that he felt like he had good stuff, but it was the adjustments the White Sox made that helped them pick up the victory.

"The one to Pierzynski was down and away and he just went out and got it. The one to Ramirez was down and away and he just went out and got it," Shields said. "I made a good pitch to [Viciedo] and we were playing infield in, he just found a hole. ... I made pitches, but the bottom line is that it just didn't go my way."

Shields gave up his fifth straight hit to Orlando Hudson, who singled in Viciedo. The Rays nearly got out of the jam when Alejandro De Aza hit a ball to second, but he beat out the potential double play to allow Ramirez to score the fifth run of the inning.

"You chip away and you chip away, and you finally break through in that inning," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The continuous effort of going up there with the same intent finally pays off. It just changes the feel that's going on throughout the lineup. Every guy is going up there feeling like he wants to continue it."

Shields was pulled at the end of the inning after giving up six runs on 10 hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. The loss was the third in the last five starts for Shields, who is now 6-3.

Chicago extended the lead in the top of the eighth when Viciedo launched a home run to center field, making the score 7-2.

Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.