Adam Dunn has hit 406 home runs during his 11-plus seasons in the major leagues.
The last one was the biggest of his career, closely followed by No. 405.
Mired in a 3-for-28 rut with 12 strikeouts after going down swinging in his first two trips to the plate against Cleveland on Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field, Dunn and hitting coach Jeff Manto hooked up for a quick crash course in the indoor batting cage behind the White Sox’ dugout.
“I got good pitches to hit early,” Dunn said. “I went to tweak some things between innings. That’s one good thing about DH-ing, you have the opportunity to go watch a little film to see why you’re missing, what’s the deal.
“Jeff went in. Jeff had a couple suggestions. We were down about 15-20 minutes, and all went better.”
In his third at-bat, Dunn launched a 436-foot solo home run to center field off Indians starter Zach McAllister in the sixth inning, cutting the Sox’ deficit to 3-2.
In his fourth at-bat, his 3-run homer just cleared the fence in right-center and powered the Sox to a 5-4 victory. Detroit also won, so the White Sox still hold a 1-game lead in the AL Central with nine to play.
“The last homer, that probably was the most important so far in my career,” Dunn said after raising his season total to 41. “That was a win we needed.”
Not only did Dunn snap out of an extended slide, the Sox ended a five-game losing streak.
“Tonight was Dunner’s night,” said Sox starter Chris Sale, who allowed 3 runs on 10 hits over 7 innings. “He won the game for us, hands down.”
Dunn has been a streaky hitter — both hot and cold — the entire season. If he gets it going again at this critical point of the schedule, who knows how far he could carry the White Sox into October?
“I feel like I’ve had that (pressure) since I was probably 10 years old,” Dunn said. “When you’re always one of the better players coming up, I’m not trying to be cocky or conceited, everybody in here at one point or another has been looked upon to carry a team. If I’m swinging the bat like I’m capable of, yeah, I’ll take it.”
The Sox’ offense still is pressing too much, but Dunn’s big night might lighten things up a bit moving forward. When asked how important his 2 home runs were, Dunn scoffed a bit.
“It’s not important, it’s fun,” he said. “It’s baseball. I don’t look at it being important or this or that. This is your job. Obviously everybody wants to get to the postseason, but it’s just fun.
“It’s fun right now when every single game matters. I think a lot of times you put a lot of pressure on yourself. Take a step back once in awhile and realize it’s baseball and it’s fun.”
The Indians almost spoiled the White Sox’ fun by rallying for 1 run in the ninth inning, but left-handed specialist Donnie Veal got Jason Kipnis to ground out to second baseman Orlando Hudson while nailing down his first major-league save.
Shin-soo Choo greeted Veal with an RBI double, the first left-hander to get a hit off the reliever this season in 27 at-bats.
“Donnie has been extremely tough on lefties, and we have Matt (Thornton) in there to start it off,” manager Robin Ventura said. “For me, if I’m going down, I’m going with a guy extremely tough on lefties.”
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