Matt Thornton had to record five outs in the ninth inning, and that allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to score five runs in the ninth inning. The result: The last winless team is winless no more.
It seemed like it should have been easy. A two-run Mark Teahen single turned a one-run game into a three-run lead, and Thornton came in to face the bottom of the Rays order. He allowed a pinch-hit single to Eliot Johnson to start the inning, but he rebounded to strike out Felipe Lopez. Sam Fuld hit a soft liner up the middle that Alexei Ramirez snagged on one hop, but he rushed the throw and gave Paul Konerko an impossible short-hop. The ball caromed off his wrist and into the Rays dugout.
One batter later, Johnny Damon hit a flare to left. Juan Pierre was unsure whether Ramirez was going to get it, and ended up scrambling for it awkwardly. The ball clanged in and out of his mitt to put runners on first and second with still just one out.
Thornton couldn't get a fastball by B.J. Upton, who slashed a broken-bat single over third base to narrow the lead to 7-6. Another fastball to Dan Johnson had even worse results, as Johnson sent one into the Bullpen Sports Bar to complete the highly improbable comeback.
It was an ugly end to an ugly game. The Sox made three outs on the basepaths, including two outs between third and home with one out. Both were unfortunate - Gordon Beckham got hung up on a liner to third off the bat of Konerko - Sean Rodriguez made a beautiful pick on a short hop, tagging Beckham out before throwing to first for the double play, ending the fifth.
Two innings later, Brent Morel appeared to have a clean run at home when Joel Peralta's splitter skipped by Kelly Shoppach. But the ball bounced off the backstop and directly back towards home, and Shoppach flipped to Peralta to get Morel for the out, keeping it a one-run game.
Konerko was also thrown out at second in the eighth inning, in a vain attempt to avoid his second wall single of the evening.
The game's uglier moments overshadowed some nice individual performances.
Mark Teahen, serving as the DH as Adam Dunn recovers from his appendectomy, went 3-for-4 with three RBI, including his first homer of the season, and the aforementiond two-run single. Gordon Beckham also hit his first homer and threw in a pair of doubles.
Above all, this game should have been noteworthy for Jesse Crain's first signature performance.
John Danks had a similar outing to his first of the season, running out of steam as he completed his sixth inning. Ozzie Guillen let him get in trouble in the seventh, loading the bases with a walk, single and a walk. In came Crain to try to preserve the two-run lead, and he did an admirable job. One run crossed the plate on Damon's fielder's choice, but after Damon stole second, Crain rebounded by striking out Upton with a nasty fastball in and above the hands, and then got Johnson to fly out to center.
He followed up the escape act with a 1-2-3 eighth. Alas, Thornton could only retire two batters in the ninth to cast a pall on the night.