When Erik Bedard takes the mound, it always looks like it's the last place he wants to be. He's hunched over when he looks for signs, and sometimes he doesn't like any of them. He takes a circuitous route back to the rubber between pitches, looking around the stadium. The rules of the game force him to throw a pitch at some point, and he's going to drag it out:
He took so much time tonight that, with a two-run lead, two on, two outs and two strikes on Paul Konerko, they had to stop play because
tumbleweeds a hot dog wrapper had drifted into view. Given another option besides pitching, Bedard left the mound to pick it up and put it in his pocket.
Sure, he left his area in a better place than he found it, but, at least according to leading theorists, the Boy Scout act foreshadowed his doom.
On the next pitch, Konerko rifled a single that scored Jeff Keppinger and narrowed the lead to 3-2, and the White Sox kept going. Avisail Garcia loaded the bases with the ultimate fisted blooper, which landed between the mound and second base to put Bedard in an even bigger jam.
He did get to face a lefty, but Jordan Danks negated any matchup advantage by lining a single to right-center, scoring two runs and capping off a comeback, evening what had been a lackluster series at one game apiece. It's still not great baseball, but at least there's a pulse.
Until the eighth, the offense was a sad sight. Paul Clemens didn't seem to have much for Houston, but he still limited the Sox to one run on four hits and two walks over six innings. The Sox struck for that run in the fourth when Garcia lined a single to right to score Alexei Ramirez. But Danks, who went 3-for-4, grounded into an inning-ending double play to strand the go-ahead run at third, and it was back to square one.
Jose Quintana was never in line for the win, but at least he escaped with yet another no-decision. He pitched well over 7⅔ innings, but problems with Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez ruined his night, as they were involved in all three runs.
In the fourth, Quintana walked Castro with two outs. Dominguez followed with a shank so shanky that he had no idea where the ball went. As it turned out, he hit it off the very end of his bat into shallow right field. It spun into foul territory, and Castro, who was off on contact, scored easily for a 1-0 lead.
In the sixth, Quintana pitched around Castro with two outs and a runner on third, even though Castro is weaker against lefties. That brought Dominguez to the plate, and he shot a single through the left side to give the Astros their one-run lead back.
The duo chased Quintana in the eighth with a pair of two-out singles, and Robin Ventura went to the bullpen for Jake Petricka against Chris Carter. That failed to work for the second night in a row. A wild pitch moved Castro to third, and he scored easily on Carter's single to right, which added the third and final run to Quintana's tab. Donnie Veal eventually had to come to Petricka's rescue, and he picked up the win as a result. Addison Reed recorded his 36th save.
*Avisail Garcia had an error for the second straight night, but given the circumstances, it's just a good thing he's OK. He nearly collided with Leury Garcia on a diving attempt in shallow right, and his throw to first bounced past Konerko, who really didn't make the best of efforts to block a not-particularly wild throw.
*Ramirez, Konerko, Avisail Garcia and Danks each had at least two hits. The rest of the lineup went hitless.