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posted: 8/11/2012 12:30 AM

Danks cranks game-winner for Sox

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  • The White Sox' Jordan Danks, right, celebrates his game-winning home run off Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Pat Neshek with Gordon Beckham during the ninth inning Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.

      The White Sox' Jordan Danks, right, celebrates his game-winning home run off Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Pat Neshek with Gordon Beckham during the ninth inning Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Associated Press

  • White Sox's Jordan Danks watches his walk-off home run off Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Pat Neshek during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Chicago. Chicago won 4-3.

      White Sox's Jordan Danks watches his walk-off home run off Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Pat Neshek during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Chicago. Chicago won 4-3.
    Associated Press

  • Jordan Danks (7) celebrates his walk-off home run Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.

      Jordan Danks (7) celebrates his walk-off home run Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Associated Press

 

In a perfect world, Jordan Danks would have rounded third base and crossed home plate into the open arms of his brother John.

That didn't happen Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field, but it was still a euphoric moment for the Danks family and the White Sox.

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John Danks, best known for pitching 8 brilliant innings and lifting Sox into the playoffs in the 2008 "Blackout Game," couldn't hug his little brother Friday night because he had season-ending shoulder surgery Monday and wasn't at the Cell.

But you can bet he caught Jordan's first major-league home run -- a two-out, ninth-inning 417-foot solo blast to right field that lifted the White Sox to a 4-3 victory over Oakland.

"That was my first walk-off home run in my life and it feels good, I've got to tell you," said Danks, who still couldn't contain a wide grin in the postgame clubhouse. "Being late in the game especially, bottom of the ninth, it's something that everybody dreams about their whole life. Right before that I saw myself doing it. It was just one of those things. It was just awesome."

It was also important.

With the second-place Tigers having already won at Texas, Danks helped the Sox maintain their 1-game lead in the AL Central.

The 26-year-old outfielder also might have given the White Sox a needed charge as they forge ahead for at least the next week without injured captain Paul Konerko (concussion).

"I knew that was going to be my role when I got here," said Danks, who has played sparingly since coming up from Class AAA Charlotte on June 7. "If somebody needed a day or somebody goes down, fill in and do it to the best of my ability. I feel like I did pretty good tonight."

He certainly did.

In his first 48 at-bats with the Sox, Danks had 1 extra-base hit -- a double.

When A's reliever Pat Neshek challenged the left-hander with a first-pitch fastball, Danks put a charge into it.

"A lot of people laugh because I'm always a first-pitch swinger type guy," Danks said. "I don't really like to get behind in counts. So if it's there I'm hacking. Luckily it was there."

The White Sox looked like they were headed for their third straight loss when Gavin Floyd got off to another slow start and allowed 3 runs in the first two innings.

Floyd settled down, the Sox' bullpen was perfect and solo home runs by A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo tied the game and set the stage for Danks' dramatics.

"It was awesome," Pierzynski said. "Obviously, it was his first home run and it couldn't have come at a better time for a better guy. It was fun. It was a good win, obviously coming back. We fell down early and found a way to battle back.

"Luckily, we hit 4 home runs. Other than that we didn't do a whole lot offensively. Gavin gave us a great job and then the bullpen came in and was tremendous."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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