Red Sox stifle rally on close play at plate

Lawrie ruled out on Hanigan's tag to end 5th-inning threat

Red Sox stifle rally on close play at plate

CHICAGO -- Both the Red Sox and White Sox had opportunities early to take control of Thursday night's series finale at U.S. Cellular Field between the American League's top two teams. But it was Boston that ultimately prevailed, 7-3, in large part due to a momentum-turning play at the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Trailing 4-2, the White Sox had loaded the bases on three straight singles from Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia, and moved within one run when Hector Sanchez drew a free pass from Heath Hembree as the culmination of 10-pitch at-bat.

Matt Barnes relieved Hembree and Austin Jackson worked the count full before lofting a ball toward Mookie Betts in right. Betts made the catch and threw a strike home to nail Lawrie at the plate to end the inning and preserve the lead.

Lawrie immediately argued the call with plate umpire Paul Emmel, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura emerged to challenge the play, claiming that catcher Ryan Hanigan had violated the Home Plate Collision Rule by blocking the plate without the ball.

But the call stood upon review, and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered off Matt Albers -- the first earned run he had allowed in 35 innings -- in the top of the sixth to stretch Boston's lead. The White Sox never threatened again.

MLB Tonight: Play at the Plate

After the game, both Ventura and Lawrie disagreed with the ruling at the plate.

"Obviously I beat the throw," said Lawrie, who was icing his right ankle, which made contact with Hanigan's left leg. "Yeah, he blocked me."

"I just thought him making contact with him before he had the ball, it affected Brett's foot going over the plate," Ventura said.

Hanigan looked to be giving Lawrie a lane until the throw from Betts arrived. He moved into the way when Betts' two-hop throw took him in that direction, which is allowed.

Ventura also had the out call challenged, but it could not definitively be determined that Lawrie's foot touched home plate prior to Hanigan's tag. It appeared that perhaps Lawrie's foot went over the plate without actually touching it.

"That's one of those things again," Lawrie said. "I thought I was in there because I got through him."

Red Sox manager John Farrell thought the umpires got it correct.

"One, he gave them a lane," Farrell said. "And I think it was more the out call and his foot stayed in the air above the plate as he was crossing home plate. A great play by Ryan to receive the ball. He puts his foot so he's blocking some of the plate but still gave him a lane and, like I said, that was a momentum shift for us."

Three Boston relievers held the White Sox to one hit and one walk over the final four innings. The White Sox had 15 baserunners over the first five.

"Again, we had a lot of opportunities, and I think both sides had it," Ventura said. "We had them on the ropes a couple of times with the bases loaded and didn't get anything out of it. We'll get better at that."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.