Alex Rios is high-fived after hitting a homer against the Angels Thursday. AP PHOTO
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Alex Rios, who has been the steadiest, most productive force in a light-hitting White Sox lineup, launched his ninth home run of the season and saved a run with his arm against the Angels on Thursday night.
Rios, the Sox right fielder, threw out Angels catcher Chris Ianetta at home trying to score on Erick Aybar's single for the third out of the third inning before connecting on a pitch from Jerome Williams that carried over the Sox bullpen beyond left field. The blast was estimated at 435 feet.
Albert Pujols' two-run homer against Sox starter Jose Quintana, the 500th of his career counting 18 postseason homers, gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead in the the fourth. The Sox tied it in the fifth when Conor Gillaspie (leadoff double) scored on Aybar's error at shortstop.
The Angels pulled ahead 4-2 on Howie Kendrick's two-run double off left fielder Dayan Viciedo's glove. The deep, hooking liner appeared to be a catchable ball, but it was a difficult play.
Rios, who bats third in Robin Ventura's lineup, is walking more this season. Through Wednesday, he had 15 walks, in part because the No. 4 and 5 hitters behind him have struggled and he's getting pitched around, but also because of the basic approach he has taken since last season: "Swinging at better pitches,'' Rios said.
"I am focusing on my approach, that's the only thing you can control,'' he said. "And the results will be better if the approach is right.''
Rios, who walked only 26 times last season and 27 times in 2011, is on pace for 64 walks, nine more than his career high in 2007.
Rios needed a perfect throw to catcher Tyler Flowers to get Ianetta, who was out on a close play. Rios' 80 career assists rank third among active AL outfielders behind Torii Hunter (113) and Ichiro (106).