Texas loses 4-3 to WSox after Nathan gives up HR
Joe Nathan took the ball in a tie game in his second appearance for the Texas Rangers. One batter later, they were losing.
Alex Rios led off the top of the ninth with a homer on a 1-2 pitch off Nathan and the Chicago White Sox won 4-3 Saturday night to give new manager Robin Ventura his first victory.
Nathan (0-1), the former Minnesota Twins closer who signed with Texas during the offseason, got career save No. 262 with a perfect inning in the season opener a day earlier. This time, manager Ron Washington brought the right-hander into a tie game.
''I've still got to go out and put a zero on the board and hope our team comes out and puts a tally on the board,'' Nathan said.
Rios hit a 1-2 pitch that barely cleared the 8-foot wall in center field just out of the reach of leaping Josh Hamilton.
''He's my closer. There's no save situation there, (but) I'm saving the game,'' Washington said. ''He got the ball out over the plate on Rios, and he didn't miss it.''
Hector Santiago, a 24-year-old rookie left-hander, then needed only 11 pitches to get his first major league save - in only his third career appearance. He worked a perfect ninth against the two-time defending American League champions who had gotten their new rings before the game.
After the game, Santiago tried to give the ball from the final out to his beer-soaked manager who had just won his first game. But Ventura gave it right back.
''To be able to keep that ball is great,'' Santiago said.
Matt Thornton (1-0) worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth after coming back from a 3-0 count against Mike Napoli, who grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice.
And the White Sox took full advantage with Rios' big swing.
''I don't think he meant to put that pitch where he threw it, and I got a good swing on it,'' Rios said.
''It was a fastball I tried to elevate higher than it was. I felt if he did take a swing he wouldn't be able to hit it the way he did. I made him beat me to the deepest part of the park,'' Nathan said. ''I've faced him quite a bit. It's that cat-and-mouse game, and I lost. He guessed right, I think, and I did miss a little bit.''
Paul Konerko drove in three runs for the White Sox in his 2,000th career game.
Both starting pitchers, Derek Holland and Jake Peavy, struck out five while giving up three runs over six innings.
Peavy, the 2007 NL Cy Young winner, hadn't started since last Sept. 6. The right-hander was shut down for the rest of the season after going 7-7 in his comeback from shoulder surgery in 2010.
Holland made his first start since getting a new $28.5 million, five-year contract from Texas last month. That deal goes through 2016 and includes two club options after that.
The 25-year-old left-hander finished last season allowing only two hits in 8 1-3 scoreless innings in Game 4 of the World Series against St. Louis at Rangers Ballpark, but the White Sox got on the board in a hurry against Holland.
Alejandro De Aza led off the game with a single, stole second and came home on a two-out single by Konerko.
De Aza reached in the third when Holland was charged with an error after dropping a comebacker, but the speedy center fielder was promptly picked off first base.
Holland walked the next two batters before Konerko's two-run double made it 3-1.
The Rangers got even in the bottom of the third when Ian Kinsler had a leadoff triple, after De Aza dove for the ball that scooted past his glove toward the wall. Elvis Andrus then had an RBI single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Beltre.
Napoli had an RBI single in the second.
NOTES: Konerko has played all but 81 of his games with the White Sox in his 15-year career. ... Lefty Matt Harrison, 2-0 with a 3.54 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox, makes his 2012 debut for the Rangers in Sunday's finale. ... RHP Gavin Floyd, who starts for Chicago on Sunday night, allowed only two runs (one earned) and six hits over 14 innings in his two starts against Texas last season. ... 1B/OF Brad Hawpe, released by the Rangers late in spring training, has signed a minor league deal with the organization and assigned to Double-A Frisco. He is rebuilding arm strength in a return from left elbow surgery last August.