White Sox top Rangers 4-3 on wild pitch, earn split
By DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com May 17, 2011 11:54PM
Brent Morel follows the flight of his three-run home run in the fifth inning Tuesday night. | Paul Beaty~AP
Updated: August 31, 2011 12:37AM
Brent Lillibridge got off his seat on the White Sox’ bench and into the game Tuesday night. A student of the game, Lillibridge has watched and learned. And he has an idea about what it will take to get the Sox out of their doldrums at home.
“Win the first inning,’’ Lillibridge said before the Sox defeated the Texas Rangers 4-3 at U.S. Cellular Field. “Win the second inning, the third inning. Do the little things and find ways to win games.’’
And if somebody steps up and hits a three-run homer, as rookie third baseman Brent Morel did to tie the game, the Sox will take that, too.
Gordon Beckham scored the go-ahead run in the eighth on a wild pitch by reliever Cody Eppley, and Sergio Santos (0.00 ERA) pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save as the Sox gained a split of their two-game series with Texas.
Eppley (1-1) walked Beckham to lead off the eighth, and left-handed- hitting newcomer Dallas McPherson, pinch-hitting for Lillibridge, singled Beckham to third to set up the Sox’ fourth run.
“It felt like we definitely had the momentum from [the home run],’’ said Morel, whose blast of a 1-2 fastball off starter Matt Harrison — along with standout run-saving plays on ground balls in the fifth and eighth innings — energized the 22,437 in attendance.
‘‘He threw me a little slider down and in [the previous pitch], and I was trying to stay on the ball,’’ Morel said. ‘‘Luckily, I got a fastball over the plate. Mistake pitch. I was fortunate to get that one.’’
Home runs are tougher to come by in May than in the warmer summer months, so the Sox will need to be proactive at home while the weather is cool.
‘‘The whole team was slow out of the gate last season, and we heated up when the weather got warmer,’’ Lillibridge said. ‘‘Once the weather heats up, our offense at home — and since we’ve been on the road so much, it will pay dividends with so many games at home in June, July and August — with our lineup, the way the guys put the ball in the air deep, the ball really carries in the summer, so we’ll put some amazing numbers up.
‘‘But you know what? We have to find ways to win now with no excuses. We can’t hit the high fly balls and hope they go out. We have to produce, get guys on base, get guys over with productive outs. We have to get two-out hits, and that’s the only way you’re going to win. We have to win the tough ones, the cold-weather games.’’
After a 6-3 road trip that followed a 1-5 homestand, the Sox were flattened 4-0 by the Rangers and Colby Lewis on Monday. Trailing the Cleveland Indians, who come to town tonight, by 12 games in the loss column puts the pressure on the Sox to start making some hay.
“We won some games on the road trip with a little luck, but we also got guys over, got some bunts down and did things right,’’ Lillibridge said. “We can’t let being down a couple of runs early change the way we play.’’
Sox starter John Danks avoided falling to 0-7 despite six walks (one intentional) by battling his way into the seventh inning before leaving after 113 pitches with the score tied at 3.
‘‘He was swimming against the current, but he made it to the island,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said.
‘‘Any win is a good win,’’ Danks said, ‘‘but we feel like we’re starting to turn it around a little bit after the road trip, and to beat a team like that, even though they’re missing some guys right now, they’re a good team. For us to win the way we did tonight, that’s big.’’