Ross connected for his 16th home run with one out and two on, erasing a White Sox advantage and giving the Red Sox a 3-1 walk-off victory on Thursday night before a frenzied 38,413 faithful at Fenway Park. It was a game where the White Sox (50-42) certainly played well enough to win, but they didn't quite do enough to prevent their third loss in four games to the Red Sox (48-45) and first series setback since losing two of three at home to the Cubs from June 18-20.
This punch-to-the-gut result seemingly increased the drama for the end of the White Sox 10-game road trip to start the second half that has them currently standing at 3-4, with a trip to Comerica Park on the docket for this weekend. The red-hot Tigers (49-44) have moved to within 1 1/2 games of first place in the American League Central.
But the White Sox have been in this position before. In fact, they suffered the same sort of walk-off heartbreaker against the Tigers on May 4 when Jhonny Peralta took Matt Thornton deep. So, resiliency once again needs to be a trademark of the division leaders.
"Just like we've done all year," said Reed, who suffered his third blown save in 18 opportunities. "Forget about it and go out there tomorrow and it's a huge game. It's us and Detroit right now battling for first. So hopefully we'll go in there and sweep the series."
"Those are games that sting," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his team's fourth walk-off loss this year. "But by the time we get to Detroit, we'll be ready to go."
Ventura has been praised for the calm, cool and collected way he has run this team, both in good times and bad. The first-year manager will have more than his share of second-guessers for the way the White Sox ninth inning was handled at Fenway.
Rookie Jose Quintana was brilliant once again, hurling eight shutout innings, while giving up five hits, striking out two and not issuing a walk. Three of those hits came in the seventh, when the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out, but Quintana induced a double-play grounder from Will Middlebrooks as the culmination of an eight-pitch at-bat to preserve the White Sox one-run lead.
At 103 pitches, though, Ventura decided to go to his bullpen to start the ninth. Instead of starting with his closer, Ventura turned to left-hander Thornton to counteract the left-handed bats of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez up first and third in the inning.
"You can go back out there with him, but you are eventually going to go to those guys anyway if he gets in trouble. So you go to the guys who are fresh," Ventura said. "He did his job and he got out of some tough spots. So, that's my call to take him out and bring somebody else in."
"That's the manager's choice," said Quintana through translator and White Sox manager of cultural relations Jackson Miranda. "It's one of those that this is going to happen. It won't be the first or the last time. It's just something that some days you have some good outings and some days you don't. You have to go out there and keep playing."
Thornton gave up a leadoff single to Crawford, and after third baseman Eduardo Escobar's double-clutch cost the White Sox a double-play on Dustin Pedroia's grounder, Gonzalez singled to right on a 0-2 pitch. Ventura replaced Thornton with Reed, and three pitches later, Ross delivered.
"I want to be the guy up every time in that situation. I always have my whole life," Ross said. "I just like that pressure and I like just being there in the moment. I can't really compare it to anything. It's just a great feeling especially when you come though and you're a hero. There's no better feeling."
"It was supposed to be a fastball away and it sailed over the plate and he got a good piece of it," Reed said. "He's been hot this whole series and it was a bad pitch and he hit it. It's unfortunate. Quintana threw his [butt] off and there's nothing else he could have done. He did everything. It [stinks] we didn't come out with a win."
Alfredo Aceves (1-6) earned the win in relief of Clay Buchholz, who gave up one run over eight innings. Quintana's three starts of eight scoreless innings or more this season are tied for second behind a group of seven pitchers at four, including Detroit's Justin Verlander.
Verlander was the last rookie hurler to have at least three outings of eight scoreless innings or more in 2006. On Friday, Verlander tries to bring the Tigers one step closer to first place in the series opener.
Jake Peavy gets the call for the White Sox. Peavy left Boston to arrive in Detroit early on Thursday, and despite an airport delay, probably was in flight when the Red Sox claimed victory. It will be easy for him to forget the celebration his teammates witnessed.
"We are going to come back and play," Ventura said. "This team is resilient."