Jose Abreu, Eloy Jiménez homer; White Sox beat A’s 4-1

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CHICAGO — Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez homered, Dylan Cease threw six strong innings and the Chicago White Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 4-1.

Abreu and Leury Garcia had two hits apiece for the White Sox, who have won 10 of 15 and returned to above .500. Chicago, the preseason favorite to win the AL Central, trailed first-place Minnesota by three games entering the day.

“We’re literally in contention, so I think we’re going to be excited about it and treat every series like it’s the last one we’re going to play and know we have to get a lot of wins,” manager Tony La Russa said. “The most fun that you can have during the regular season is to get to the last two months and have a chance. It’s where everything is amped up in every moment and every at-bat. We’re in a position to do that. We just have to get the wins.”

Liam Hendriks pitched around Ramon Laureano’s double in the ninth for his 20th save in 23 opportunities.

Cease (11-4) allowed a run and four hits, striking out seven and walking one. The right-hander has won four straight starts and allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last 12 outings.

“I want to be consistent,” Cease said. “I want to be someone you can count on. So to give us a chance to win almost every time, it’s as much as I can ask for.”

Laureano homered for the A’s, who have the second-worst record in the majors but are 7-4 since the All-Star break.

Jimenez hit his fifth homer off Adam Oller (1-4) in the seventh. Oller allowed four runs, seven hits and no walks, setting career highs for innings (6 1/3) and strikeouts (six).

“That’s the best he’s thrown the ball,” manager Mark Kotsay said.

Chicago scored three in the second inning to take the lead. Abreu led off with his 12th homer before Josh Harrison doubled and scored on Garcia’s single. Seby Zavala followed with a double for a 3-1 lead.

Laureano homered on the first pitch in the second inning, ending Cease’s career-high 22-inning scoreless streak. Seth Brown and Stephen Piscotty just missed connecting, hitting foul balls down the right-field line. A review confirmed a long Piscotty fly ball was foul. Brown had hit three homers in his last two games.

Laureano’s 11th homer gave Oakland 36 homers in July, ahead of just 15 in May and 21 in June.

“We didn’t have many opportunities. You’ve got to give credit to Cease,” Kotsay said. “We came out aggressive on the fastball. He immediately just went to his breaking ball. It’s a plus-breaking ball. He showed that today.”

A LOT LEFT

The White Sox have one day off in the next four weeks. Cease was asked how much is left in the tank.

“A lot. Good thing I’m young,” Cease said.

DRAFT UPDATE

The White Sox announced they have agreed to terms with all 20 of their 2022 draft selections and 10 undrafted free agents.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (lower back strain) said his back tightness is more serious than when he dealt with a similar issue at the beginning of the season. Lopez went on the 15-day injured list retroactive to July 25. He has been throwing 90 feet. “I’m getting better,” he said. “I went to two different doctors to see what was going on. They were confident it was good, it wasn’t anything serious or that would need surgery.”

UP NEXT

A’s: RHP Frankie Montas (4-9, 3.18 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday to open a series at Los Angeles. RHP Noah Syndergaard (5-8, 3.83) is expected to start for the Angels. Both have been the subject of trade rumors.

White Sox: RHP Michael Kopech (4-6, 3.16) is slated to pitch Monday to open a home series against Kansas City, which will start RHP Brad Keller (5-11, 4.18).

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.