For one night, Lew Ford was on the 2003 Twins again.
With tonight's victory, the Orioles have won their last 13 one-run games, and this one a one-run game all the way. The White Sox were fortunate that it wasn't a more lopsided loss, but after minimizing damage in a couple of ugly jams, a rather innocuous situation bit them.
Brett Myers issued a one-out walk to Mark Reynolds on a 3-2 curveball off the corner that Reynolds somehow found a way to take. Two pitches later, Nate McLouth -- he of one homer of the year -- hit his second on a grooved 1-0 fastball, giving the Orioles a 4-3 lead and the ballgame, killing the White Sox's winning streak at six games.
On the other hand, the White Sox were lucky to give up just four runs. And they were lucky to score three. That's life in the Charm City.
Francisco Liriano somehow pitched five innings despite little command. He escaped a first-and-third jam in the first when his pitch in the dirt didn't get too far away from A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski made a good flip to Liriano, who placed the tag on Markakis' foot to end the threat.
He gave up Lew Ford's first homer since 2007 to start the seventh, but when he loaded the bases with one out (walk-single-walk), Markakis hit a liner right to Alexei Ramirez. Manny Machado strayed too far was second, and Ramirez flipped it to the bag in time for the double play.
He left a mess in the sixth inning, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Jesse Crain compounded the problem by walking the first two batters he faced, forcing in the tying run. He came back to get Machado to ground into a 5-2 fielder's choice, but Pierzynski didn't even look to first for a double play that was available.
Instead, he bent at the waist and looked at the ground for a second. Crain was visibly baffled and irked, and the only explanation is that Pierzynski didn't know if he had his foot on the plate. That's still Pierzynski's problem, but Crain picked him up regardless. He struck out Robert Andino, and then jammed Markakis into a grounder to short. Alexei Ramirez took care of the rest with a fine charging play.
While the Orioles botched a few scoring opportunities, the White Sox had trouble mounting even one credible threat. Wei-Yin Chen moved his fastball around the zone ably, and had plenty of success getting the Sox to swing late at high stuff.
But he left the Sox an opening in the fifth. With the Sox trailing 1-0, Dewayne Wise hit a grounder to first. Reynolds made the diving stab, but his flip to Chen was a bit low and behind him, and bounced off the heel of his glove. Chen couldn't pick it up right away either, and so Wise reached on the error.
Chen then started Kevin Youkilis with a fastball down and over the plate, and Youkilis jumped on it for a two-run homer, giving the Sox the lead.
The Sox would retake the lead in the eighth with similarly good fortune. Wise shot a single to left off tough setup man Pedro Strop, and Youkilis followed with a blooper to right to get Wise to third. Adam Dunn then hit a weak grounder to second, but it turned out to be the perfect speed. Slow enough for Wise to score without a throw, and slow enough to lure Reynolds into going after it. As a result, nobody covered first, and Dunn had an RBI infield single.
Strop recovered to get Konerko to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, and he struck out Alex Rios to end the inning. Strop came into the game allowing a slugging percentage of .218, so the Sox found a good time for Death by Singles.
They had no such ninth-inning powers. Ramirez did reach on an infield single and moved to second on Jim Johnson's first wild pitch of the year, but Gordon Beckham bounced out to short to end the game.
- Ramirez had a fingernail on his throwing hand after a barehanded attempt gone awry, but he and his bloody finger stayed in the game to record nine assists.
- Pierzynski had a day to forget. Along with the brain cramp at the plate, he struck out three times and popped out in foul territory in his final at-bat.
- Dayan Viciedo also struck out three times in his first game back from a sore shoulder.
- The White Sox drew one walk and struck out 12 times. The Orioles drew seven walks and struck out five times.
- The Orioles are now 24-6 in one-run games on the year.