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White Sox 5, Mets 4: Winning without honor

A botched pop-up in the ninth keeps Chris Sale winless in June, but allows Alexei Ramirez to redeem himself

Gordon Beckham is relieved.
Gordon Beckham is relieved.
Jonathan Daniel

Maybe the White Sox wanted Alexei Ramirez to be the hero after a rough week?

That's about the only possible explanation for what happened in the ninth inning, and it's not even a good one. But there's no other way to explain why this happened with two outs and the tying run on second, which is why there was even a bottom of the ninth in the first place.

David Wright started the inning with a single. He stole second, but Reed was on the verge of stranding him there when he struck out Marlon Byrd, and got Josh Satin to fly out to center (with a nice running catch by Jordan Danks).

Pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy tried jumping on the first pitch he saw, but he popped it straight up. The infield had been playing back, so it took a while for a leader to emerge and follow Addison Reed's helpful pointing.

That man was Conor Gillaspie.

At least until Gordon Beckham came barreling in from second.

Beckham came out of nowhere, first bumping into a stationary Reed, which caused him to stumble into a textbook ankle tackle of Gillaspie. If you're wondering what happened to the ball, well, it hit Beckham square in the back and bounced away. Wright scored to tie the game at 4.

Fortunately, less comical Mets defense helped the Sox stagger out of U.S. Cellular Field with the victory nevertheless. Jeff Keppinger led off the ninth with a single off LaTroy Hawkins. Beckham followed with a sound bunt up the first base line, but a sacrifice turned into an E1 when Hawkins failed to pick it up.

Tyler Flowers then shot a ball to the right side. Josh Satin snagged the hot hop, but he needed a pause to get the ball out of his mitt. That gave Beckham enough time to get down to second and break up a not-particularly evasive turn by Omar Quintanilla and keep a sac fly situation in order.

The Sox didn't take advantage of that, though. Alejandro De Aza popped out just foul of third base for the second out, which brought Alexei Ramirez to the plate. Ramirez, whose error cost the Sox a sweep in Kansas City, wrested back a victory with his chalk-dotting single to left. So they got the win -- they just needed to embarrass themselves, first.

Up until that point, it had been a sound game in all facets except Chris Sale, who was spectacular.

Sale is still winless in June, but he deserved the W tonight. Especially with the way he bounced back from an unfortunate two-run first inning.

Eric Young Jr. led off with a double and David Wright walked two batters later. They wouldn't need big hits to score -- Young stole third and scored on a shallow sac fly. Wright followed by stealing second (on what looked like a blown call by Phil Cuzzi) and scored on a weak single up the middle.

But aside from a leadoff, first-pitch homer by Andrew Brown in the fifth, Sale owned the next seven innings. He struck out eight of 10 batters at one point, and finished with 13 overall. He seldom needed his defense, although Ramirez provided a spectacular play when he took a seat to handle Brown's smoked one-hopper, then popped up to throw him out.

Sale's been stung by awful run support, but the lineup did enough for him tonight. Rookie phenom Zach Wheeler throws 98 with a good curve, but the Sox weren't overwhelmed by him like they were earlier in the year by his teammate Matt Harvey.

De Aza manufactured a run in the first when he dropped a handle single between the mound and the second basemen. He stole second, moved to third on Ramirez's grounder, and scored on Alex Rios' grounder to cut the lead to 2-0. In the third, Tyler Flowers took a 1-1 slider over the left-center fence to tie the game.

After the Mets took the lead on Brown's homer, the Sox offense acted like they appreciated Sale by having his back. Beckham singled and Flowers let a fastball clip his jersey to put two on with nobody out. Robin Ventura kept up his bunt-avoiding ways by letting De Aza swing away, and the gods rewarded him with a wild pitch that took care of the runner-moving part. That allowed a couple outs to drive in a couple runs -- De Aza's grounder to the right side, and Ramirez's sac fly to right field.

That gave the Sox a 4-3 lead, and Wheeler, who pitched six scoreless innings in his debut last week, was chased after 5⅓ innings tonight. He allowed four hits and three walks, but his strikeout of Alex Rios was his only K of the game -- and the only strikeout by Mets pitching all night, which is the White Sox's single-game low this season. It'd be hard to get much lower, but you could say the same thing about that pop-up.

Record: 32-42 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights