It hasn't worked all year, but down 3-1 in the fifh inning, Ozzie Guillen thought the stolen base would help his White Sox narrow the gap.
He was right. Kind of.
Juan Pierre shouldn't have been safe. The Red Sox anticipated the steal, with Tim Wakefield throwing a pitchout to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. To Pierre's credit, he saw the development and stopped his his tracks halfway to second. Getting in a rundown is rarely fruitful -- especially with Ramon Castro on third -- but it was better than running into an out by 20 feet at second.
He took the chance that something or somebody would bail him out, and second base umpire Marty Foster turned out to be his guardian angel.
Pierre got a second throw out of the rundown, as he doubled back to second after Dustin Pedroia flipped it to Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez tossed it back to Pedroia as Pierre was about to run past him, and Pedroida swept a tag across Pierre's back before turning his attention toward third to make sure Castro didn't have any ideas.
The White Sox lucked out, because from Foster's perspective, Pedroia missed the tag. It was all on Foster, because unlike A.J. Pierzynski's desperation moves, Pierre didn't even sell it particularly well. He hesitated, then ran the final 20 feet to second while waiting for the out call that never game.
Pedroia was furious, Gonzalez was equally outraged, and Terry Francona tried arguing their case to no avail. Instead of two outs with a runner on third, the White Sox had second and third with one man down, and they put salt in their opponents' wound.
First, Alexei Ramirez grounded to short. Jed Lowrie had to go into the hole and make a long peg to get Ramirez at first, which was about the only way Castro could score. That gave the White Sox one gift run, and they'd get another when Carlos Quentin doubled to left field to bring home Pierre.
Suddenly it was a brand new ballgame, and one from which the White Sox would emerge victorious.
The Sox gained their first lead the following inning, when Brent Lillibridge finally conquered the Green Monster. He singled off the top of it on Tuesday, and doubled off the top of it in the fourth inning to knock in the White Sox's first run. With one out in the sixth, Lillibridge jumped on a first-pitch floater and knocked it over the wall and into a parking lot across Lansdowne.
He came to the plate with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, and smashed a single past Kevin Youkilis down the line for a 5-4 lead. Daniel Bard relieved Matt Albers and kept it a one-run game by striking out Lillibridge (started out with two good sliders, then blew him away with a 98 mph fastball), but Konerko picked him up two innings later by matching Lillibridge with a towering Monster mash of his own off Jonathan Papelbon, giving Sergio Santos a much larger cushion for his ninth save.
Chris Sale once again provided some welcome relief. He retired Adrian Gonzalez with a runner on for the second straight night, as Gonzalez harmlessly flied out to center on a first-pitch slider. He followed it by working the entire eighth, taking advantage of the cavernous center field by getting Kevin Youkilis to fly out in Fenway's triangle to start the eighth.
Gavin Floyd benefited from Sale's work as the bridge, as it preserved his staff-best sixth victory of the season. It was his reward for the quintessential "kept his team in the game" outing. It looked ugly early on both sides. While the White Sox took their time getting reacquainted with the knuckleball, the Red Sox roped around Floyd for three runs on seven hits. Floyd avoided danger in the first by inducing a double play off the bat of Youkilis, but he started the second with a get-me-over 3-2 curve. Ortiz doubled on it, and the Red Sox were on their way to a 3-0 lead.
That inning had the normally patient Boston lineup licking its chops, but their aggressiveness actually benefited Floyd. He started the third with a couple of hard-hit, first-pitch outs, and that got him back into a groove. He needed just seven pitches to complete the third, and eight pitches during a 1-2-3 fourth.
In fact, he ended up retiring 10 in a row at one point. He gave the White Sox a chance to climb back in the ballgame, and outside of the Ortiz solo shot, he kept Boston down the rest of the way.
As a result, the White Sox enjoyed their seventh straight victory at Fenway Park, and their first road-series sweep of the season.