Keyed by the third grand slam of Alex Rios' career -- a day after he got pulled for not hustling down the line -- the White Sox plated five runs in their half of the third off Braves starter Paul Maholm and tacked on four more in the fourth to give Jake Peavy plenty of support.
Maholm left in the fourth inning with a sprained left wrist, but said the injury wasn't at fault for Chicago's big third.
"There's nothing to [pin that on] besides making some bad pitches, walking a guy and leaving balls over the middle," Maholm said. "It was completely on me, and … it [stinks] to do that when your team gives you a 4-0 lead and you hand it right back and we end up losing the game."
Asked if the first pitch to Rios in the third was one of those he left over the middle, Maholm pulled out some gallow's humor.
"That would be placed on a tee for him," he said. "I was thinking he was going to swing [on] the first pitch and I wanted to throw a sinker. It just seemed like the whole inning, whether it was sinker [or] changeup, it was kind of pulled and kind of cut back towards the middle, and for me the bread and butter is sinker-changeup down and away and I made some bad pitches. That was probably about the worse one I could've made and he did what he was supposed to do with it."
Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer in the second for the Braves (55-42), who added two more in the third for a quick 4-0 lead against Peavy -- who made his first start since heading to the disabled list in early June with a fractured rib and pitched six innings.
In this game, Peavy was fine. Maholm was not.
Maholm not gave up seven runs (all earned), but left the game with the wrist injury in the fourth -- after allowing a leadoff double to Josh Phegley and a run-scoring single by Brent Morel that made it 6-4 Chicago. After getting checked by head athletic trainer Jeff Porter, Maholm left the mound and pointed to his left wrist while heading off the field.
The Braves, however, are hopeful the injury won't land the left-hander on the disabled list. In fact, manager Fredi Gonzalez said there might be a chance he could take his next turn in the rotation against the Mets on Thursday at Citi Field.
"It flared up on him in the fourth inning, the top of the fourth," Gonzalez said. "He did it [initially] in Miami in his last start when he was hitting. He kind of [had a] check swing or a swing, and in the top of the fourth, it flared up. We didn't want to take any more chances and we got him out there as soon as we saw there was something."
Uggla finished 1-for-4, Freddie Freeman clubbed a two-run homer and Justin Upton went 2-for-4 with an RBI single to lead the offensive attack.
The Braves took the 4-0 lead thanks to Uggla's homer, his team-leading 19th, and a pair of manufactured runs in the third, when Upton's single drove in Joey Terdoslavich and advanced Jose Costanza to third with one out. Freeman's sacrifice fly scored Costanza and it looked like the Braves might be in for a relatively easy day.
The White Sox had other ideas and it didn't take them long to start roughing up Maholm. After Maholm had already allowed a run on three hits and a walk in the third, he watched his first pitch to Rios travel an estimated 405 feet into the stands in center to clear the bases.
It looked like the result of motivation provided by White Sox manager Robin Ventura's in-game benching the night before, but the Sox skipper disagreed.
"I don't think that was it," Ventura said. "The other day [in Detroit] he was 6-for-6, so there's nothing going on there. He's just a good player and he had a good day. He came up at the right times and hits a grand slam and gets some big hits to help us win. I don't think it had anything to do with last night because he's a good player and it's been proven before."