Sergio Santos wasn't going to carry a 0.00 ERA forever. Sox fans just hoped that when his perfection would end, it would come in a low-leverage situation.
And not like tonight, on a solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a one-run lead.
Santos made one mistake to Russ Mitchell -- a 2-1 fastball that split the plate -- and Mitchell hooked it around the foul pole to tie the game at 3. He then made a bunch of mistakes in the 10th inning as the Sox's three-game winning streak was snapped in a painful fashion.
Facing the top of the Dodgers' order in the 10th, Santos found himself in trouble quickly. Jamey Carroll singled, Andre Ethier lined out on a rope to Alex Rios, and Matt Kemp smashed a single through the left side to put runners on the corners with one out.
Santos appeared to have caught a break. Coming to the plate was AAAA journeyman middle infielder Juan Castro, who entered the game for Juan Uribe. Uribe made a run-saving diving catch in the third, but had to leave the game due to a strained hip flexor. Castro took his place.
Now, Castro was 0-for-6 on the year, and it showed in his earlier at-bat against Jesse Crain. Crain faced Castro with the bases loaded and one out, attempting to clean up Matt Thornton's mess, and Castro struck out rather pathetically. He stepped in the bucket every time, and his feet slid around like he was afraid of getting plunked.
It looked like there was no way that Castro could make contact with anything over the heart of the plate and points outside. Sure enough, even though Crain through a hanging slider that ended up over the middle, Castro's bail-out swing had no chance against it.
That's all Sergio Santos had to do when facing Castro with runners on the corners and the game tied in the 10th. So what does he do? He misses inside, just about over the chalk of the batter's box -- the only pitch that Castro could hit with that approach. Castro dropped a single over the head of Paul Konerko to give the Dodgers the lead, and after a hanging slider resulted in an RBI double by James Loney, the Dodgers had a 5-3 lead.
Omar Vizquel and Juan Pierre led off the 10th with singles off Matt Guerrier. Alexei Ramirez almost made it three in a row, but Mitchell(!) robbed him with a diving stab to his left. You could call that bad luck, but then again, if Mitchell wasn't guarding the line, it would've been a 5-4-3 double play. Instead, he could only get the force at first, and the tying run still stood at the plate.
Don Mattingly called for Scott Elbert to face Adam Dunn. Dunn swung at the first pitch, hit a hard grounder right at Loney for the second out. Vizquel scored on the play, but that would be it for the Sox, as new pitcher and Old Friend Mike MacDougal got Paul Konerko to ground out to second to end the game.
Phil Humber deserved a better fate than a no-decision. He gave up a two-run homer to Kemp in the first inning, and very little afterward. He lowered his staff-best ERA to 3.10 after allowing two runs on five hits and a walk over seven innings.
Then again, Ted Lilly had the same kind of night on the other side. The Sox put together a helluva two-out flurry in the second, stringing together five straight hits after Lilly retired the first five batters. Ramon Castro hit a run-scoring ground-rule double, and Gordon Beckham teed up a hanging curve for a two-run homer, giving the Sox a 3-2 lead.
But Lilly eventually got wise to the fact that his curve was a meatball, and he dropped it in favor of his change. Outside of Uribe's catch, the Sox never mounted a serious threat until the 10th.
*Alex Rios made a fine running catch on the warning track in left-center. Great read, great speed, caught it standing up -- it might've been his best catch of the year.
*Konerko had a good day when it came to digging out low throws.