White Sox 5, Angels 4: Jeff Keppinger makes first walk count

Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

Four-pitch free pass with bases loaded brings home decisive run

For at least one day, Jeff Keppinger was a difference-maker. Fittingly, it took place in a game with turns hinging on unlikely events. And by "unlikely," I mostly mean "foolish."

Keppinger capped off a three-run eighth with a bases-loaded walk. The Sox overcame a 4-2 deficit with the late rally, and they have a three-game winning streak to show for it.

They needed the Angels' help, but there's a reason why the Angels have a worse record than the Sox.

Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez started with back-to-back singles. But Mike Trout turned Ramirez's single into an unofficial double by airmailing a hopeless throw to third, which put two runners in scoring position.

One came home on a wild pitch that struck out Alex Rios on a failed checked swing (and Rios, for some reason, didn't run; it would've been an easy extra out). The other came home when Adam Dunn smashed a single past a drawn-in infield to tie the game.

Paul Konerko put the rally in jeopardy when he grounded out weakly to the pitcher. But Michael Kohn kept the pressure on himself when he opted to take the safe out at first, rather than throwing to second, a rather low-risk proposition.

With a base open, he pitched carefully to Conor Gillaspie. Gillaspie walked on seven pitches. He pitched sloppily to Dayan Viciedo. The Tank walked on five pitches.

Up came Keppinger, who hadn't drawn a walk in any of his 141 plate appearances this season.

Four-pitch walk. Dunn scored, and the White Sox led, 5-4.

And if Keppinger hadn't done enough already in the top of the inning, he also made a big play in the bottom half. Jesse Crain wasn't particularly sharp, and hanging breaking balls resulted in a one-out Mark Trumbo double, and a deep flyout by Josh Hamilton that allowed Trumbo to reach third.

Up came the dangerous Howie Kendrick, and true to form, he hit a hard grounder right of the mound. But Keppinger was playing back, and he was able to get down to backhand it, pop up, and make a strong throw to first to end the threat. It wasn't elegant, but all he needed to be was effective.

Addison Reed recorded his 13th save with a 1-2-3 inning to close out a rather ugly ballgame in a tidy fashion.

Most of the offense in this game came about thanks to sloppy execution by the other team. OK, maybe not Alex Rios' mammoth solo homer over the White Sox bullpen in left, which gave the Sox the lead (although De Aza was doubled off on Ramirez's lineout to short the batter before). And maybe not Albert Pujols' opposite-field blast that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning.

After that? It wasn't really a day for the bats.

Gillaspie scored the tying run in the fifth inning courtesy of an Angels error. He led off with a double and moved to third on Viciedo's groundout, but with the infield playing more in than usual, Keppinger hit a grounder right at shortstop Erick Aybar. The contact play was on, and Aybar would've had Gillaspie if he executed a good, solid, routine throw. But Gillaspie scored easily because Aybar fumbled the exchange for an error.

The Angels retook the lead in the sixth when, with runners on first and second, Kendrick smashed a ball to deep left. Viciedo broke back quickly, but he didn't give himself a great angle to see it into his glove. It clanged off his leather and bounced around in left, allowing two runs to score on the double. It wasn't an easy play, but one a more graceful left fielder would've been in a better position to catch.

That play was the difference between Quintana throwing a quality start, and throwing one the offense had to cover for. He allowed those four runs over 6⅔ innings, yielding six hits and three walks while striking out four. He did use the high fastball well, but made a mistake when he didn't get it high or away enough from Pujols in the fourth inning, right after he issued a leadoff walk to Trout.

The bullpen picked him up. Matt Lindstrom ended up with the win for facing one whole batter, Crain survived his inning, and Reed made easy work at the end.

Bullet points:

*The inning before Rios hit his solo shot, he took a run off the board by gunning down Chris Iannetta at the plate. He gave Tyler Flowers an easy throw to receive, and Flowers took a direct turn and dive on the tag to get Iannetta's foot just before it touched home.

*Gillaspie made nice plays to both sides -- including a diving stab behind the bag that would've retired Mark Trumbo had it not been ruled foul.

*Dunn went 2-for-4 with that RBI single, a double and zero strikeouts.

*Paul Konerko, on the other hand, went 1-for-4 with an infield single, but his contact is awful right now.

*Flowers took a step back with an 0-for-4, three-strikeout game.

*Mike Scioscia lifted starter Jerome Williams after six strong innings .. .and 71 pitches.

Record: 18-21 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights

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