KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- No player was more maligned than left fielder Juan Pierre when the White Sox were struggling their way through an 11-22 start. Pierre played poorly in the field, on the bases and he didn't provide any spark at the top of the order.
Fans wanted him benched. Media wanted Dayan Viciedo brought up from AAA to take his place. But manager Ozzie Guillen stood by Pierre, who is having another good second half and giving the Sox what they need in the leadoff spot.
Pierre extended his hitting streak to 10 games on Monday night in the Sox' 5-2 win against the Kansas City Royals. It was the Sox third win in four games on the current road trip that began over the weekend in Detroit. Pierre is batting .356 (52-for-146) over his last 18 games, raising his average from .248 to .276. He is second on the team in hits behind Paul Konerko.
"When I first had Juan he was younger but now, in the last couple of years of his career Juan starts very slow,'' Guillen said. "He picked it up and he's playing better. He's fielding better, running better and he is getting big hits for us lately. When Juan hits, this team does better.''
Pierre might get a rare night off Wednesday when the Sox face a lefty for the second straight game, Guillen said. The Royals are starting lefties both nights, and Brent Lillibridge was in the lineup to replace Adam Dunn for Tuesday's game. Carlos Quentin is batting fourth at designated hitter, with Lillibridge in right field batting sixth.
Pierre led off the game with a triple and scored on Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice fly. He added an RBI single with two outs in the Sox' two-run sixth, scoring Gordon Beckham.
"We need him on base as much as he can,'' Sox winning pitcher Mark Buehrle said. "It seems like he's been a clutch RBI guy. Late in the game there are guys at third and he comes up with that hit. Everyone is starting to click right now which is important."