With runners on the corners and two outs in the eighth inning, the circumstances were certainly stacked against the White Sox.
Adam Dunn stood at the plate. Although he homered in his previous appearance to cut the Cleveland lead to one, he was still 3-for-24.
The White Sox were 4-for-48 with runners in scoring position. Kevin Youkilis had one of those hits to bring Dunn to the plate, but it was an infield single knocked down by Jack Hannahan, and it didn't score a run.
Vinnie Pestano got ahead of Dunn 0-2 with a high fastball. On his third pitch, he tried the same thing.
He didn't elevate the fastball enough, but Dunn sure did. He turned and cranked a three-run homer to right center, giving the White Sox a 5-3 lead.
That extra run proved necessary, because the White Sox wouldn't make it easy in the ninth. Matt Thornton allowed a leadoff single through the middle to Casey Kotchman, then erased him a 1-6-3 off the bat of Lou Marson. Thornton didn't give Alexei Ramirez a great feed, perhaps because second base umpire Jerry Layne ran a crossing route in the path of the throw, knocking Thornton off his rhythm. Ramirez made a terrific turn for the double play, the third outstanding one turned by the Sox in this game.
But it wasn't over. Ezequiel Carrera poked an 0-2 fastball off the plate into left center. With lefty Shin-Soo Choo coming to the plate, Ventura opted to go with Donnie Veal, who got ahead of Choo 1-2. Then he hung a slider, and Choo roped it into the right-field corner for an RBI double, the first hit by a lefty off Veal in 27 at-bats.
Veal stayed on the mound for lefty Jason Kipnis, and Kipnis hit a hard grounder to second. A weird hop ate up
Gordon Beckham Orlando Hudson a little, but he recovered in time for the third out. With the Tigers winning earlier in the evening, the White Sox preserved their one-game lead.
Until Dunn's blast, the Sox had the same "dead team walking" vibe at the plate. They swung through many Zach McAllister fastballs through the first three innings, and had to work hard to get their first run across the plate.
First, they had a run taken off the board when umpire Dan Bellino called Alejandro De Aza out at the plate when he tried to score from first on Youkilis' double down the line. It was a bad call -- De Aza slid across the plate well before the tag, and even though his foot was in the air over the first half of the plate, he still touched down before the tag. Bellino blew the call, and the score remained 1-0.
Another bang-bang call went in their favor when Alexei Ramirez hit a broken-bat grounder to short with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth. The broken bat softened the contact enough for Ramirez to barely beat it out, and the game was tied at 1.
(Alex Rios scored on that play, which was made possible by Layne calling him safe on a steal attempt where the replay showed otherwise.)
Chris Sale couldn't hold the tie. After Carlos Santana led off the top of the sixth with a single, Russ Canzler flipped an outer-half slider into the Cleveland bullpen to give the Tribe a 3-1 lead. It didn't look like much off the bat, but Canzler has some muscle, and the ball was certainly carrying that way. Rios had drifted on a fly earlier and pulled up short of the wall for the Indians' first run of the game. This time, he ran out of room.
Sale had to battle the whole night, as the Indians didn't go down easily. He allowed three runs over seven innings, but allowed 10 hits and two walks. It seemed like Robin Ventura stuck with him too long, especially when Asdrubal Cabrera came to the plate after Kipnis' two-out double in the seventh. But Sale's 118th-pitch was a good one -- a fastball at the letters that Cabrera swung under for strike three.
*A.J. Pierzynski was three-for-three in cutting down basestealers, and he drew a walk to set a new career high with 26.
*Veal recorded his first major-league save.
*Ramirez and Gordon Beckham each made terrific turns on slow-developing double plays, prior to Ramirez's gem in the ninth.
*Youkilis committed his ninth error with an errant throw on a long peg, but it didn't hurt the Sox.
*Dunn hit homers No. 40 and 41. He's the sixth White Sox to reach 40 in a season, and it's the sixth time he's hit 40 in a season.