Addison Reed entered today's game with his first save situation since Aug. 27. Conor Gillaspie hit a pinch-hit solo shot off Tommy Hunter in the top of the 10th to give the Sox a real chance at their first victory nine games into this 10-game road trip, and the Sox had their best reliever in a position to close it out.
He started with a groundout to J.J. Hardy, but the plot thickened when Henry Urrieta singled through the left side, and Nick Markakis dropped a blooper to left. Pinch-running Chris Dickerson read it beautifully and took third on the play, which turned out to be vitally important.
The open base at second allowed Markakis to take off for the base on strike three to Nate McLouth. The Sox had already been burned once by the double steal on this road trip, and Josh Phegley already had a pair of misadventures throwing to second earlier in the game, so Markakis took it without a throw.
Two runners in scoring position put the pressure on Reed to retire Matt Wieters. He couldn't. Wieters lined a single to right field that drove in two, and instead of merely tying the game, the base hit ended it. The White Sox have now lost nine in a row.
The blown save wasted what sadly is their most successful offensive attack of the series by far. After being limited to 10 hits -- all singles -- through the first two games, the Sox were reunited with the extra-base hit in the form of three doubles and two homers. Gillaspie's should have been the big hit. He tangled with Hunter to a full count, then turned on a curve and kept it inside the right-field foul pole for a 3-2 lead.
Hector Santiago did answer the challenge from Don Cooper (who was absent with health problems) to throw more strikes, but it didn't quite lead to pitching deeper into the game. Santiago threw 100 pitches over five innings, and it was frontloaded. He needed 52 pitches to get through two, including a 29-pitch second inning that contained both of his walks (both with two outs).
He settled down after that, cutting through the Orioles quickly in the third and fourth innings, but it put him in a position where he couldn't really absorb another laborious inning. Alas, the Orioles made him work in the fifth. Brian Roberts led off the inning with a game-tying homer on the first pitch, answering Dayan Viciedo's go-ahead laser shot to center in the top of the fifth.
The Orioles followed up with a Manny Machado double and an Adam Jones bunt single, putting runners on the corners and nobody out with Chris Davis coming to the plate. Bobby Thigpen apparently told him what he needed to hear -- Davis popped out, Hardy popped out, and Danny Valencia grounded out, freezing the runner at third and keeping the game tied at two. It was a nice escape act, but it left the bullpen with a lot of baseball to pick up.
White Sox relievers dipped into their own Houdini reserves. Jake Petricka stranded a runner on third in the sixth, Matt Lindstrom did the same in the seventh, and Nate Jones had an even bigger task in the eighth.
He inherited runners on the corners and one out from David Purcey, who gave up a leadoff double to Valencia before watching the defense fail him twice. Valencia's pinch-runner, Alexi Casilla, took third when Phegley's pickoff attempt trickled into center field, and Leury Garcia fumbled a potential groundout on which Casilla couldn't score.
Jones hunkered down and struck out pinch-hitting Wieters, then induced a grounder that Garcia could handle at second to end the inning. Jones then came back for a 1-2-3 inning, which would have put him in position for the win, but, you know.
*The White Sox are now 8-14 in extra innings.
*Paul Konerko tied the game in the fourth with a two-out RBI single, ending the scoreless streak at 18 innings.
*Robin Ventura made a curious choice in the ninth inning when he let Jeff Keppinger hit for himself, then used Adam Dunn to pinch-hit for Dayan Viciedo, who had doubled and homered earlier in the game.
*Due to the Fox blackout, I listened to this game on the radio, and Fox doesn't even make highlights available yet. Let me know if my descriptions are off.