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White Sox 5, Blue Jays 4: Powering to lead, then clinging to it

Jose Abreu leads four-homer assault, but treacherous ninth inning will likely cost Ronald Belisario the closer job

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Two homers by Jose Abreu and one apiece from Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez gave the White Sox a 5-2 lead.

Javy Guerra and Zach Putnam took it into the ninth.

Ronald Belisario and Conor Gillaspie almost took it into the 10th.

Good thing Cuba Cubed went off. Otherwise Robin Ventura might've joined them by now.

Staked to a 5-2 lead, Belisario started the inning by giving up a solo shot to pinch hitter Colby Rasmus. Ventura came out for a brief conversation -- maybe a pick-me-up, maybe an ultimatum -- but it did nothing for Belisario. He did get Juan Francisco to ground out, but back-to-back singles by the Jays' speediest hitters put the tying runs on base, and forced Ventura to go to the bullpen.

In came Eric Surkamp to face Adam Lind. Surkamp did his job by getting a firm grounder right to Gillaspie. Gillaspie didn't do his job by booting it, then looking at second after recovering when he still had a shot to get Lind at first. Surkamp could've escaped with his first save, but instead, the Jays had the bases loaded and one out, and Ventura went to the bullpen for Jake Petricka.

Jose Reyes hit a chopper to short, and Ramirez did what he could -- probably too much -- to try to start a 6-4-3 double play. He fielded the chopper with his bare hand and flipped to second, but Gordon Beckham's throw wasn't nearly in time. One run crossed the plate, and the tying run stood 90 feet away as Sox-killing Melky Cabrera came to the plate. Petricka. Petricka forced Tyler Flowers to block a first-pitch changeup in the dirt, but he got the second pitch over for a strike, and Cabrera pounded the third pitch in the ground to second, where Beckham converted the out to keep Ventura from assaulting somebody.

It should've been easier ... but then again, given the way the game started, five runs by the White Sox offense didn't look likely. R.A. Dickey was virtually perfect through the first four innings, as he erased an error with a double play to keep the Sox hitless, walkless and scoreless heading into the fifth.

Abreu changed that in the fifth. He fouled back a few high knuckleballs during a battle with Dickey that put the count full, but he didn't miss on his fourth swing, sending a rocket out of the park to left to give the Sox a 1-0 lead.

With the knuckler starting to flatten out, Dickey started throwing more fastballs. That didn't faze Viciedo, because three batters later, he took Dickey out the other way for a 2-0 lead.

It remained 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth, when John Danks -- who survived a couple early scares -- gave up a quick pair of solo shots to Edwin Encarnacion and Dioner Navarro, tying the game.

But wouldn't you know it -- Abreu had an answer for that one, too. He tied Encarnacion for the league lead in homers with his first blast, and he did it again to lead off the seventh, as his fly to center carried, and carried, and carried over the glove of a leaping Anthony Gose for another solo shot, giving the Sox a 3-2 lead.

Dickey put himself on the ropes by walking Adam Dunn, and Alexei Ramirez knocked him out with a homer off the foul screen in left, giving the Sox a 5-2 lead.

They had a golden opportunity to tack on at least one more in the eighth, as they loaded the bases with two singles and intentional walk with one out. But Santos has been much better since coming off the DL for the second time, and he showed it with some wipeout-slider work to fan both Ramirez and Viciedo to strand three.

Still, the White Sox offense scored enough runs to allow Danks to take home his seventh win of the season. He deserved it, as he allowed just five hits over six innings, with zero walks and two strikeouts. He had to pitch around a Ramirez error to start the game, but Ramirez atoned for it in the second.

Steve Tolleson doubled off Danks with one out, and Munenori Kawasaki followed with a single through the right side. Tolleson received a late stop sign, and Viciedo made a nice, low, on-line throw to warrant the caution. Kawasaki didn't know that Tolleson was held, and so his attempt to draw the cut-off man worked against him. Abreu started the pickle, flipping the ball to Ramirez. Ramirez ran Kawasaki back to first while keeping one eye on a drifting Tolleson. Once Tolleson strayed too far, Ramirez wheeled and fired to third, and Gillaspie slapped the tag down in time to save Danks a jam.

Bullet points:

*Abreu now has six homers off four Cy Young winners this year, and four multi-homer games.

*Ramirez's homer was his first since May 23, and the RBIs his first since May 26.

Record: 37-44 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights