Alex Rios is a standup guy.

After he and Adam Dunn struggled miserably last season, they arrived at spring training with no excuses, ready to work with new hitting coach Jeff Manto and get things fixed.

''They took responsibility,'' Manto said.

Rios, who ushered in the second half with a 411-foot home run and a double to the wall in his first at-bats after the All-Star break, is standing up at the plate, too. Much is made of his getting out of his crouch and switching to a more upright stance, but he and Manto say Rios' turnaround stems from his approach, not his stance or mechanics.

''The more we talked about hitting, the more he evolved into what you're seeing today,'' Manto said. ''It was never 'You should do this' or 'You should do that.' It was an evolution of discussions. Now where he's set up, it matches the approach that he has. For some time he had the right approach, but not the right stance for what he wanted to do.

''He's such a good player, and he watches. He knows what he's doing. He knows exactly what his plan is, and he sticks with it.''

Rios had a chance to tie the score in the ninth inning of the Sox' marathon game against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, but he flied to short center against Jonathan Broxton with the bases loaded and no outs. A.J. Pierzynski scored Kevin Youkilis on a single to right to make it 7-7, but right fielder Jeff Francouer threw out pinch runner Orlando Hudson to keep the score tied.