A.J. Pierzynski hits homer, drives in three as White Sox win 4th in row
August 8, 2011 10:36PM
Chicago White Sox's Carlos Quentin slides into home plate for the go-ahead run in front of Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters on Alex Rios' hit in the eighth inning of a baseball game in Baltimore, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Chicago beat Baltimore 7-6. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Updated: November 20, 2011 2:19AM
BALTIMORE — This series has three out of four — or better — written all over it. With ground to be gained and the middle of August upon them by the weekend, the White Sox have no choice but to take from those who give.
Those would be the altogether- beatable Baltimore Orioles, who gave away a couple of runs with leaky defense in the Sox’ 7-6 come-from-behind win Monday night at Camden Yards. With three more games against the 44-68 Orioles, the Sox can’t afford to look this gift (dead) horse in the mouth.
“The ball is bouncing our way,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Not that the Sox did nothing on their own merit. After making some minor adjustments in the batting cage with hitting coaches Greg Walker and Mike Gellinger, A.J. Pierzynski drove in three runs with a home run, single and sacrifice fly. On the sac fly in the eighth inning that scored pinch runner Brent Lillibridge, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones air-mailed a throw toward home that allowed Carlos Quentin to advance to second. Quentin scored the go-ahead run on the suddenly resurgent Alex Rios’ single.
Pierzynski also made a spin-o-rama catch on the railing of the Orioles’ dugout for the second out of the eighth with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Matt Thornton then got Josh Bell on a grounder in the hole to shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
Sergio Santos struck out J.J. Hardy (home run, two doubles), Nick Markakis and Jones in order in the ninth.
“When I caught it, I was worried about falling into the dugout and falling in because I wasn’t sure of the rules — giving the runner bases or something — so I was trying to hold myself up,’’ Pierzynski said. “Luckily, it came back and was in my reach where the cutout was. It was a huge out because [Robert] Andino has had some huge hits against us.’’
The Sox had coughed up a lead and faced the deflating prospect of a bad loss in a season full of them. A comeback victory for their fourth in a row after a sweep by the Yankees in Chicago had an uplifting ring to it. It put the Sox (56-58) five games behind the first-place Tigers in the winnable AL Central.
“We didn’t wait long or put our head down,’’ Guillen said. “Everyone was positive. When Ramirez threw the guy out at first base, they came to the dugout with a lot of enthusiasm, and that’s something I want to see more often. We don’t have that much during the season. I like to see that in the dugout, even when we’re down, we cheer for each other.’’
“When you’re hitting, it gives you more energy,’’ Pierzynski said. “We’ve been fighting the fight the whole time. We just got behind big to the Yankees and got our butts kicked. We fought tonight.’’
Jesse Crain (6-3), who was charged with a blown save, got the win in relief of John Danks. While posting his 23rd consecutive scoreless appearance on the road, Santos got his 23rd save.
With the Sox protecting a 5-3 lead in the seventh, catcher Matt Wieters (3-for-3) doubled leading off and was safe at third when Danks attempted to throw him out on Andino’s bunt. Wieters’ slide knocked the ball out of third baseman Brent Morel’s glove, putting runners on the corners with no outs.
After Danks struck out Bell, Crain replaced Danks to face Hardy, who hit a 1-2 pitch into the left-field seats for a three-run homer that gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead.
The Sox scored four in the second inning against Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie. Pierzynski led off with his sixth home run on an 0-2 pitch, Rios doubled and scored on a single by Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham got the Sox’ fourth consecutive hit with a two-run homer to make it 4-0.
“I’m happy for Alex,’’ Pierzynski said. “He’s a great guy. He’s got all the tools in the world, and I love Alex. I really hope that he can keep going. We saw last year he can be a special player for this team. We need him to do that here for the last 50 or so games.’’
Rios’ go-ahead RBI single against Jim Johnson (5-4) was hit hard, and it skipped under the glove of Bell at third. Call it a break, but call it a break the desperate Sox weren’t giving back.