Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Alexei Ramirez has never met a Midwestern April that he liked.
Until this one.
The White Sox shortstop hit two home runs Tuesday night, including a 10th-inning shot with two outs against left-hander Bobby Cramer, to give the Sox an uplifting 6-5 victory against the Athletics at U.S. Cellular Field.
Ramirez, a historically slow starter, also hit a three-run shot against A’s starter Trevor Cahill in the second inning and scored a run in the sixth. It was the first game-ending homer of his career and the first multihomer game for Ramirez, who is 8-for-23 (.347) in his last six games.
Ramirez, who had held his head in his hands in the dugout after making an error in the fifth that might have cost starter Edwin Jackson his third victory, hit a 3-1 pitch to left.
“Alexei has been great over the years against lefties, a very dangerous hitter,’’ Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I almost got him to swing 3-0. He was looking at me. . . .
“This is the best month of April he’s swung the bat. We needed this win bad. With the loss last night, we bounced back again and played well.”
A night after Matt Thornton’s blown save and left fielder Juan Pierre’s costly error, the defense was still shaky with Ramirez’s bobble and Alex Rios’ dropped fly in center. But Pierre hit a game-tying single in the sixth, and the bullpen was stellar — most notably Sergio Santos with two perfect innings that included three strikeouts and two scoreless innings by Chris Sale (2-0).
“I told Matty, “As far as I’m concerned and we’re all concerned, you’re still our closer,’ ’’ Santos said. “He’s the guy we go to with the lead in the ninth. Regardless of what happened, you look at his body of work and not just his last three outings. He has proved time and again he can get people out in big situations. He has gone through a little bad luck and bad pitching locations, but that happens to everybody.’’
Thornton, who was set to pitch the 11th, appeared to be Guillen’s ninth-inning guy of choice the way he managed the bullpen, but he talked before the game like he’s keeping his options open.
“I’m going to keep putting him there,’’ Guillen said. “If I think Matt Thornton is the guy to be out there in that particular inning, he will be.’’
He’ll likely see what Santos, Sale and perhaps Jesse Crain can do at some point, as well.
“The closer situation? Whoever is going to be out there is the closer,” Guillen said. “I don’t want to come here every day and explain to you guys if [Thornton] is a guy I still believe in. Yes, I still believe in him. I still have a lot of faith. He can do the job. In the meanwhile, it’s my job to win games, and I’ll put the guys in there who can do the job on that particular day.”
The Sox had to turn the game over to the bullpen after Jackson threw 100 pitches in his 42/3-inning stint. Jackson had very little command of the slider that helped him strike out 13 Tampa Bay Rays in his last outing, and Guillen pulled him after Ramirez’s error.
Jackson was unhappy about being lifted, walking off the field with his hands on his hips.
“I had no feel for the off-speed,’’ Jackson said. “Everything came out of my hand spinning.’’
Left-hander Will Ohman got pinch hitter Conor Jackson on a fielder’s choice to end the inning, but the A’s took a 5-4 lead in the sixth on Kevin Kouzmanoff’s two-run homer against Tony Pena.
“It benefitted us that they pinch-hit with Conor Jackson,’’ Ohman said. “It was a favorable matchup for them, but it put their lineup with a lot of right-handers in a row followed by a lot of left-handers in a row. That set up nicely for us to stick with one guy for a longer period of time.’’