Jeff Cox must have watched Rich Dauer send Troy Tulowitzki on Tuesday night and thought, "I could do that."
For the second straight game, a daring send led to the winning run. It wasn't quite as epic as Tulowitzki's mad dash, but it might've required bigger stones, and as a result, the first two games have been won by the third-base coaches.
The White Sox were staring into the eyes of Crushing Disappointment, with whom they are well-acquainted. They put runners on the corners with nobody out after back-to-back singles by Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko off Huston Street.
Then they promptly started freaking out. Alexei Ramirez ended up jumping out of his shoes to strike out on junk in the dirt, and up came A.J. Pierzynski, who fell into a favorable 2-0 count, fouled off a strike and then hit a shallow fly to right.
Cox had to make a quick decision. He could either send Quentin to his likely doom, or take his chances on Alex Rios delivering with two outs. He played the odds, sending Quentin and hoping something would go wrong with the throw. As it so happened, Seth Smith gave Chris Iannetta an in-between hop he couldn't come up with, and Quentin scored standing. When Rios popped out harmlessly to end the inning, Cox looked even smarter.
Rios then added to Smith's woes by snagging his liner off the turf to start the ninth. That put Sergio Santos on the right track, and he finished the night by striking out Ryan Spilborghs looking and Iannetta swinging.
It could have been worse, because the Sox seemed destined to fail to nurse a small lead through the rest of the game. They touched up Ubaldo Jimenez for two runs in the fourth inning. He got himself into trouble by walking Juan Pierre and plunking Quentin, and Konerko served a soft single to left for the game's first run. Two batters later, Pierzynski lined a double to the right-center gap to score Quentin.
But until the ninth, that was it. Mark Buehrle snuffed out his own rally when he was (hilariously) picked off at second after hitting a one-out double. Pierre followed by reaching on an error, but Colorado pitchers would retire the next 10 White Sox.
Buehrle eventually lost his grip on the lead. He gave up an opposite-field solo shot to Jason Giambi in the sixth, and then gave up another one to Ty Wigginton to lead off the seventh. He nearly lost the lead as well. Two batters after Wigginton went yard, Spilborghs singled, then moved to third on an errant Buerhle pickoff throw, putting the go-ahead run on third with one out.
Fortunately, Iannetta came to the plate. Buehrle struck him out in his first two at-bats, and while Iannetta made contact his third time up, it was only good for a pop-out to second, as Buehrle got the cutter in on him. He followed up by getting Chris Nelson to hit a swinging bunt, and he ended his night with no further damage.
Buehrle was great with runners on. In the third, Carlos Gonzalez hit a one-out "triple" -- it was a deep fly to center that Rios broke in on for three steps before turning around -- and Buehrle wouldn't let him score, either. Throw in two double-play balls and a pickoff, and Buehrle didn't allow rallies to start.
That wasn't good enough to win, though. Instead, Brian Bruney picked up his first White Sox victory with an equally impressive escape job. Matt Thornton gave up a broken-bat infield single to Gonzalez, and after a sac bunt, he walked Jason Giambi thanks to Dana DeMuth's tight strike zone.
In came Bruney to face Tulowitzki, and he walked him to load the bases. That brought Wigginton to the plate, and he hit a sharp grounder to Gordon Beckham's left. Beckham gloved it, spun, fired a strike to Ramirez, and Ramirez completed the acrobatic 4-6-3 double play to keep the game tied.
*Rios ended up making a fine running grab in right-center, adding to his maddeningly inconsistent night.
*Juan Pierre led off the game with a single, then was caught stealing for the 10th time.