White Sox 3, Braves 1: Little things -- and big defense -- finally add up

USA TODAY Sports

Jose Quintana escapes a few bases-loaded jams with a lot of help from his friends, and some by his enemies

Good pitching, high-quality defense and just enough offense -- that was supposed to be the White Sox recipe for success this year.

It's been missing for most of the year, but the Sox found it today, taking the rubber match from the Braves on the strength of exceptional run prevention.

This game felt like a bomb that never went off, with Jose Quintana skirting disaster on three separate occasions during an arduous 5⅔ innings, over which he allowed just one run.

In the second, he had the bases loaded with nobody out and a 3-2 count on Dan Uggla. Two pitches later, Quintana was in the dugout, having struck out Dan Uggla and benefited from bad baserunning by Brian McCann. The Atlanta catcher broke the wrong way on a flared liner to Alexei Ramirez, who caught it and flipped the ball to second for the third out.

In the third, he benefited from catcher speed in scoring position. Gerald Laird reached on a single, which was the Sox's lone miscue of the day (neither Quintana nor Adam Dunn knew who was going to field a swinging bunt), and moved to second on a two-out walk.

Freddie Freeman then smoked a ball through the right side, but right in Alex Rios' path. He collected it with his momentum carrying him home, and Laird had no choice but to dock at third as Rios hit the cutoff man. McCann tried to go the same route, but Jeff Keppinger made an incredible diving stab, with plenty of time to throw to first to escape yet another jam.

Two innings later, cramps kicked in as Quintana tried finishing five innings with a 2-0 lead. He had a runner on first and two outs, but McCann was successful in his second attempt at getting a grounder past Kepppinger, and Evan Gattis smoked a ball off Brent Morel's glove to drive to cut the White Sox's lead in half.

But that was all the damage the Braves could do, though not for a lack of trying. In the eighth, Reed Johnson followed a walk by lining a slider to deep left. It had some carry to it, but Casper Wells figured out the angle and robbed Johnson of a homer with a twisting, leaping catch that had his back to the wall. Instead of tying the game, the Braves still trailed 3-1, and that's how it ended after Addison Reed recorded his 25th save of the season with a 1-2-3 inning.

The Braves' close calls were more impressive than the way the Sox scratched across their three runs. Good baserunning -- especially by Alejandro De Aza -- had a lot to do with it.

De Aza scored the first run of the game by drawing the dreaded leadoff walk in the first, advancing to second a wild pitch, and scoring on Dunn's single through the vacated hole left of second.

Two innings later, De Aza kicked off the third with a double. He tagged up on Alexei Ramirez's flyball to right, which prompted Fredi Gonzales to call for the infield in. Had they been playing at normal depth, Uggla would've been able to catch Rios' flare to the right side. Instead, it dropped into short right field to give the Sox a 2-0 lead.

Rios' legs added the insurance in the sixth. He singled through the middle, stole second, moved to third on an error, and scored on Dayan Viciedo's sac fly.

It wasn't flashy, but the little things did the job today. Mike Minor went the distance for Atlanta and allowed fewer baserunners over his eight innings (seven) than Quintana did over his 5⅔ innings (13). It wasn't a matter of hitting with scoring position, either, because the Braves went 3-for-8. Timing and breaks played a huge part in today's victory, and the Sox made their own luck, too.

Record: 39-56 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights

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