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Liam Hendriks picks up first win since comeback from cancer, aided by Jake Burger's walk-off grand slam

Liam Hendriks made his return to baseball last week following an offseason cancer diagnosis.

As of Sunday, he's back in the win column. The Chicago White Sox closer pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a tie game against the Detroit Tigers. In the bottom of the ninth, third baseman Jake Burger ended the game in dramatic fashion.

Facing a 1-0 pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the 2-2 game, Burger saw an 89 mph curveball from Alex Lange hang over the plate. He launched it over the left-field wall at Guaranteed Rate Field for a walk-off grand slam to secure a 6-2 White Sox win.

The home run was the burgeoning White Sox slugger's 12th of the season. It secured a win for Hendriks in his third appearance since returning to baseball following his cancer diagnosis. He earned that win on National Cancer Survivors Day.

Liam Hendriks reacts after an inning-ending strikout of Tyler Nevin. (AP photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Liam Hendriks reacts after an inning-ending strikout of Tyler Nevin. (AP photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Hendriks back in baseball months after cancer diagnosis

Hendriks revealed Jan. 8 that he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He announced that he was starting treatment the following day.

"My treatment begins tomorrow and I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back on the mound as soon as possible," Hendriks wrote in a Jan. 8 statement. "I know with the support of my wife, my family, my teammates and the Chicago White Sox organization, along with the treatment and care from my doctors, I will get through this.”

On May 29 — not five months since his diagnosis — Hendriks followed through on his vow and returned to the mound for an eighth-inning appearance against the Los Angeles Angels. He didn't have his best stuff that day, giving up two runs in a 6-4 Angels win that was secondary to his return

He followed that with a perfect seventh inning Saturday in a 2-1 White Sox win over the Tigers. On Sunday, he returned to his familiar spot in the ninth inning, again against Detroit.

He struck out outfielder Akil Baddoo in a nine-pitch leadoff battle. He then induced a ground ball from first baseman Spencer Torkelson on the first pitch of the at-bat. He closed the perfect inning with a swinging, five-pitch strikeout of Tyler Nevin that secured his spot in the win column.

Hendriks, a three-time All-Star, is in his 13th MLB season at 34 years old. He has now made three appearances in seven days, with a pair of perfect innings. He appears well on his way to a regular spot out of the White Sox bullpen.