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After handing out 12 walks, the White Sox find themselves trailing Detroit for the first time in two months, and with seven games left.
The White Sox led 3-1 after one inning, and Hawk Harrelson still sounded sad heading into the commercial break. Even though they scored the amount of expected runs with the bases loaded and nobody out, Harrelson expected more, since Alexei Ramirez and Dewayne Wise both grounded out to strand a runner at third.
So White Sox pitchers gave Harrelson a reason to pout. The strategy of starting Hector Santiago against a lefty-vulnerable Cleveland lineup backfired to the tune of five walks over 3⅓ innings, and the rest of the pitching staff followed suit. Seven White Sox pitchers combined to walk 12 batters. Only Jesse Crain, who pitched the ninth, went an inning with a zero in the "BB" column.
There was a particularly ugly sequence in the sixth inning. Ramirez made up for his earlier failure with a big two-out RBI double to give the Sox a 4-3 lead. Donnie Veal started the process of giving it back. Shin-Soo Choo tagged him for his second double in two meetings, and Jason Kipnis walked.
Robin Ventura called on Nate Jones, who didn't have his best command either. Worse yet, Jerry Layne's strike zone shrunk on him.
Jones appeared to have struck out Brent Lillibridge, but Layne wouldn't call the top half of the zone. Lillibridge walked on eight pitches. Up came Carlos Santana, who came within a couple of feet of hitting a grand slam. Jones brushed it off and threw Santana a couple of nasty sliders that locked up Santana. Layne called neither a strike, and Santana walked on 12 pitches to bring in the tying run. The Sox didn't earn the benefit of the doubt with the way they threw the ball.
Jones came back to strike out Russ Canzler with a slider, and Ventura went to Matt Thornton for one of the few fortunate results of the night -- an inning-ending 1-2-3 off the bat of Travis Hafner to keep the game tied.
And then Thornton walked Lou Marson (Marson's third walk of the evening) with one out in the seventh. Marson moved to third on Ezequiel Cabrera, and scored on Shin-Soo Choo's bouncer to first for the go-ahead run. A solo shot by Vinny Rottino off Brett Myers added some insurance.
The White Sox couldn't get those runs back at the plate. They finished 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and nothing after the sixth inning. Kevin Youkilis and Adam Dunn stranded Alejandro De Aza at third in the seventh (Dunn's out was a screamer right at first baseman Santana). Alex Rios was caught stealing to end the eighth.
They saved the worst for last. The Indians twice opened the door for the Sox, and they couldn't do anything with it. Chris Perez walked De Aza to start the ninth, and Youkilis grounded into a 1-6-3 double play. Dunn appeared to ground out to Lillibridge to end the game, but Lillibridge airmailed the most routine throw in the world (which is the reason he ended up in the outfield in Chicago) to give the Sox another chance. Konerko tried turning on a first-pitch inside fastball, but it had more movement than he anticipated. He popped it up, and Lillibridge caught it in shallow left to end the game.
With Detroit coming back to beat the Royals earlier in the evening, the White Sox fell into second place for the first time since July 23.
- Rios made a nice leaping catch over the barrier in the right field corner for an out.
- This game probably should have been out of reach, but the Indians only went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, stranding a dozen.