What he liked most Friday was the way his team responded to a deflating defeat the day before.
"The atmosphere is wonderful here at Wrigley Field all the time. I really enjoyed myself," the Cubs manager said after a late rally produced a 6-3 victory. "We needed a win after yesterday's tough loss."
Angel Pagan's two-run triple and a passed ball on White Sox backup catcher Toby Hall -- in his first game of the season -- keyed the Cubs' comeback in the series opener. About 24 hours earlier, the Cubs had given up five ninth-inning runs in a numbing 6-5 loss to the Mets.
"We just came from a tough loss. We just forgot about it," Pagan said.
Pagan had three hits and atoned for an earlier baserunning blunder. He even drew kudos from Piniella, who said he might have to find more playing time for the switch-hitter.
White Sox starter Mark Buehrle was sailing along in the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead. He retired the first two batters, but after walking pinch-hitter Henry Blanco, who was batting .214, and giving up a single to Ryan Theriot, he was replaced by Mike MacDougal (1-1).
"With two outs and I walked a guy like that (Blanco). If it's Derrek Lee it's a different story," Buehrle said. "It's not acceptable."
With the two runners on, Pagan hit MacDougal's first pitch into the right-field corner for a triple to tie the game.
Hall, who was activated from the disabled list on Thursday, then missed MacDougal's low outside pitch for a passed ball as Pagan raced home with the go-ahead run.
"He's got a nasty slider and you got a guy on third, your emotions and body and everything is going and normally I catch that," Hall said. "That's something that gets caught all the time. It's just one of those things."
Hall, who'd dislocated his shoulder playing first base in spring training, had two hits starting in place of A.J. Pierzynski. Hall also had two errors and the costly passed ball.
His second error helped the Cubs score two more in the eighth. After Michael Barrett and Mark DeRosa singled, Hall's low throw to second on an attempted pickoff advanced them a base. Pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd and Theriot then hit RBI grounders for a 6-3 lead.
"There is no excuse. When my body is normal I just hold on to it, but I got a little excited," Hall said.
It was the first taste of White Sox-Cubs for Piniella. The neighborhood park on the city's north side was hopping more than normal with a playoff-like atmosphere and a wild crowd of 40,874 cheering on nearly every batted ball or missed swing.
"I love this series," said Barrett, who punched Pierzynski in the jaw last year and set off a melee. On Friday he slugged a ball over the fence for a homer, a solo shot that tied the game at 1.
"There's energy all over the place. We had a lot of Sox fans at the game," Barrett said. "I got a few jeers, but overall I thought it was a first-class atmosphere."
Ryan Dempster, who took the loss on Thursday, pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 10 chances.
The White Sox scored in the second inning on a 59-degree day without a cloud in the sky. Paul Konerko, hitting just .188, singled to left center, Tadahito Iguchi worked a walk and after a wild pitch from Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe hit a sacrifice fly.
Jermaine Dye homered off Lilly (4-2) to put the White Sox ahead 2-1 in the third. Lilly gave up six hits and three runs in seven innings.
The Cubs had a rally going in the sixth after Pagan singled and raced to third as Aramis Ramirez singled to shallow right. But when Barrett hit a liner to Dye in medium right, Pagan held third, not knowing that Dye's strong throw would bounce off Hall for an error and allow Ramirez to reach second. Buehrle then retired DeRosa on a grounder.
"My mistake," Pagan said. "He (third base coach Mike Quade) sent me. I just didn't hear him and didn't go. You can't let it happen again."
The White Sox went up 3-1 in the seventh when Hall doubled leading off. And after two strikeouts, Darin Erstad lined a ball to left that Alfonso Soriano couldn't reach for a double that easily scored Hall.
- The Cubs recalled right-hander Carlos Marmol from Triple-A Iowa and optioned infielder Mike Fonetnot to the same club.
- Both teams were without big stars. Derrek Lee of the Cubs missed his fifth straight game with a sore neck. And the White Sox's Jim Thome -- who probably would have played little in the National League Park without the DH -- is on a rehab assignment for a strained rib cage. The White Sox also had to go without third baseman Joe Crede, who was a late scratch after being hit in the face with a ground ball during batting practice.