Finally, White Sox flash some U.S. Cellular fielding
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com July 21, 2013 7:21PM
Chicago White Sox left fielder Casper Wells robs Atlanta Braves' Reed Johnson of a home run in the eighth inning as the White Sox defeated the Braves 3-1 in a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, July 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)
Updated: July 21, 2013 8:24PM
Defense helped the White Sox and left-hander Jose Quintana win a game Sunday as well as the interleague series against the Atlanta Braves.
It’s what manager Robin Ventura had expected from his team all season.
‘‘You like to see the energy defensively,’’ Ventura said.
The Sox thwarted two bases-loaded situations, and Casper Wells made a game-saving catch at the wall in the 3-1 victory.
‘‘I knew our team was more like today than what was happening in the first half,’’ Ventura said.
The error-filled first half contributed greatly to the Sox’ losing record and led to the decision to break up the team as the July 31 trade deadline nears.
Quintana had a respectable game, fighting off cramping in his left leg to work 52/3 innings to improve to 5-2.
But Quintana admitted the defense saved him, especially in bases-loaded situations in the second and third innings.
‘‘Incredible,’’ Quintana said. ‘‘These things don’t happen all the time, and the fact they happened when I needed it gave us an opportunity to win.’’
Jeff Keppinger was involved in both innings as the Braves failed to score.
Reed Johnson lined out to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who flipped to Keppinger at second to double off Brian McCann and end the second.
Keppinger, who was subbing for a hurting Gordon Beckham (hand), stopped McCann’s hard-hit grounder and threw him out to end the third.
‘‘It’s really good considering our defense has been sort of weak throughout the season,’’ Keppinger said. ‘‘It was good that our defense could pick us up and we could score enough runs to actually be on top of one of these games.’’
Wells made a game-saving catch in the eighth on Johnson’s drive that appeared headed over the yellow line at the top of the left-field wall.
Dan Uggla was on base when Wells leaped and caught the ball, preserving the 3-1 lead.
‘‘I had some real estate to work with,’’ Wells said. ‘‘I just jumped, and the ball found my glove. Any way I can help the team. It felt great in that situation.’’
Quintana didn’t feel great in the fifth as cramps began to affect his leg.
‘‘My arm was good, but my leg cramped,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s the first time it ever happened. I know I have to do some things differently the next time, especially before a day game, to hydrate more.’’
Quintana held the Braves to one run despite giving up nine hits. He improved to 2-0 with a 2.36 ERA in his last four starts.
The Sox scored all three runs off starter Mike Minor (9-5), who went the distance in the loss.
The last run in the sixth was unearned as the Sox capitalized on an error by shortstop Andrelton Simmons that allowed Adam Dunn to reach first base.
Alex Rios, who had singled and stolen second, reached third on the play and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dayan Viciedo.
‘‘We capitalized on a couple of situations,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘We got a guy on third, and you make sure you get him in. There was an error, and you end up being able to knock in that run. There were a lot of little things that you like seeing, and it becomes bigger when you see what the [final] score is.’’
After their last interleague series of the season, the Sox finish with an 8-12 record against the National League compared to 9-9 last season.