CHICAGO — Jake Burger’s game-ending grand slam handed Liam Hendriks his first win since returning from cancer, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Sunday for a three-game series sweep.
Hendriks (1-0) worked a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two. It was the third big league appearance for the All-Star closer since he missed the start of the season after he was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Hendriks’ win coincided with National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States.
“Hopefully I can continue moving forward and continue somewhat of at least doing the right thing on the field, and give people some hope to continue fighting,” Hendriks said.
Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson walked with one out to load the bases for Burger, who hit a drive to left-center off Alex Lange (3-1) for his 12th homer of the season. It was his first career slam and game-ending homer.
“We’d faced (Lange) a couple times and he’s a great pitcher,” Burger said. “Today, we got the better of him, but he’s gotten the better of us in the last couple of outings. That’s baseball.”
Burger has been at the peak of his powers at home this season, as eleven of his 12 home runs have flown past the fences of Guaranteed Rate field this year.
Spencer Torkelson hit a two-run homer for Detroit, which has dropped five of six. Matthew Boyd struck out nine while pitching five innings of one-run ball.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Lange had been on “such a good roll,” but was a “little erratic” in the ninth.
“(The grand slam) makes it sting even more when you can’t finish the game,” Hinch said. “Frustrating day.”
It was the first homer allowed by Lange in 25 appearances this year.
“It sucks,” Lange said. “You hate blowing it for the boys. They fought hard all day. … It’s tough, but you move on.”
White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech permitted two runs and three hits in seven innings. He struck out nine and walked one.
The strong start continues the big righty’s recent success on the mound. In his last five starts, Kopech is 2-2 with a 2.32 ERA over 31 innings, to go with 43 strikeouts to just 10 walks.
Kopech’s lone blemish on the day was Torkelson’s fifth homer of the year, which gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the fourth, but Eloy Jiménez responded with an RBI single for the White Sox in the bottom half.
Chicago tied it at 2 on Yasmani Grandal’s bases-loaded single with two out in the sixth. Detroit reliever Will Vest surrendered back-to-back singles to Luis Robert Jr. and Jiménez before walking Andrew Vaughn to load the bases for Grandal.
Robert caught Javier Báez’s drive at the center-field wall in the eighth, stranding Zach McKinstry at second. Detroit’s Jake Marisnick returned the favor in the bottom of the eighth, snagging a fly ball from Vaughn at the wall.
White Sox manager Pedro Grifol made a flurry of late-game substitutions and said fans were an inning away from seeing Burger at second base if it weren’t for his grand slam.
Grifol tapped Andrew Benintendi to hit for Clint Frazier, and Benintendi singled before Moncada drew a pinch-hit walk. Anderson’s walk set the stage for Burger’s decisive swing.
“You’re hoping for just a fly ball, a sacrifice fly,” Grifol said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t even see that ball go out. I knew when the ball was hit we were going to win the ballgame.”
Tigers: LHP Tarik Skubal (left flexor tendon surgery) pitched two innings for High-A West Michigan as he began a rehab assignment. … RHP Garrett Hill was recalled from Triple-A Toledo. … INF Miguel Cabrera rejoined the team after attending his daughter’s graduation Saturday.
Tigers: LHP Joey Wentz (1-5, 7.28 ERA) gets the start Monday as Detroit opens a series in Philadelphia.
White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (4-4, 4.08 ERA) starts Tuesday as Chicago opens a series in New York against the Yankees.