White Sox escape with wild walk-off win

White Sox escape with wild walk-off win

White Sox escape with wild walk-off win
CHICAGO -- Luckily for the White Sox, there are no style points awarded by Major League Baseball.

That fact held true Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field during a walk-off 9-8 win over the Mariners, ending Seattle's eight-game winning streak before 25,058. This game should have never gone to the bottom of the ninth inning, with the White Sox (69-55) carrying a five-run lead into the top of the inning until the Mariners rallied for six runs against relievers Philip Humber, Donnie Veal and Addison Reed (3-1).

But Friday night was not all right for closers on the South Side, as Tom Wilhelmsen (4-3) gave the lead back before Seattle fans had time to celebrate. The White Sox came away with their fourth straight win, moved 14 over .500 for the first time this season and dropped the Tigers to 2 1/2 games back in the American League Central after Detroit's 2-1 loss to the Angels at Comerica Park.

It's certainly not the way the White Sox had the finish drawn up. After having time to exhale following Paul Konerko's game-winning single that was an adventure in its own right, they were happy to take the first game of this weekend set.

"Again, you're sitting there watching and it's a nice win to a horrible loss to a good win again," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The guys battled."

"From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in about a two-minute span," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who picked up his 70th RBI with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly. "Obviously it was a huge win, not only for the way that it happened but because of everything that's going on with the pennant race."

Moments after the air was sucked out of a raucous ballpark, the White Sox started their game-winning rally with Gordon Beckham's infield single. Dewayne Wise tried to bunt him over, but Wilhelmsen wasn't close on four pitches to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

"Dewayne didn't bunt at balls and that's huge," White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "People don't realize how hard that is to do, especially with a guy throwing 96, 97 [miles per hour]."

Youkilis followed the walk with a game-tying single to center on a 2-2 pitch. Adam Dunn, who launched Major League-leading homers 37 and 38 to help build that five-run cushion for starter Jake Peavy, flew out deep to left but Wise failed to tag from second.

Paul Konerko hit the next pitch hard to right-center and didn't think it would be caught when it left the bat. Both center fielder Michael Saunders and right fielder Eric Thames ran a long way to track down the drive and Thames appeared to make the catch. When the two collided, the ball rolled out into right-center and Wise, who had gone back to tag in this instance, scored easily.

"Communication was tough because it was so loud," Thames said. "I had a pretty good bead on it and Saundo thought he had a good bead on it. I saw him running, but I looked up and saw it so I went for it and I caught it, but my elbow hit him. That was a pretty bad collision. I'm on the ground and I just feel the ball shoot out."

"Even if one of those guys catches it, you've got to feel we'll score the guy from second on that because they're both down," Konerko said.

Peavy had received just nine runs of offensive support over his previous four August starts. Against the Mariners, Peavy's two runs allowed over seven innings to go with his five strikeouts were supported by the six runs the White Sox scored off Seattle starter Jason Vargas.

On this occasion, there simply was no relief to push the right-hander over .500.

Jesus Montero homered off Humber to open the ninth, but there still didn't seem to be much trouble brewing ahead. Humber proceeded to walk Justin Smoak and was replaced by Veal, who gave up a double to Trayvon Robinson.

Reed took over for Veal and clearly didn't have it on this night. He walked Brendan Ryan, gave up a two-run single to Dustin Ackley and then walked Saunders to re-load the bases. After Kyle Seager brought home a run on a long sacrifice fly tracked down by Wise in center field, John Jaso followed with an 0-2 single to tie the game.

Right fielder Alex Rios tried to get Saunders going from first to third, but the ball got away on the one-hop throw and Saunders scored the go-ahead run. Peavy's quality start went for naught.

"Things got ugly there in the ninth," an upbeat Peavy said. "To come away with a win on a night Detroit lost, us feeling like we should win a game from the outset and a nice way to come back. We don't want to win many more like that but we'll take it."

As soon as a couple of runners got on base, Reed started warming up. He was prepared to pitch, although the White Sox weren't prepared for what followed.

Ultimately, this win became a taxing way to take off two more from the magic number.

"We can't have innings like that late in the game," Youkilis said. "Hopefully, that's the last time we see that, but it was a great win at the end."

"You always take wins and we are very fortunate to get that win tonight," Beckham said. "We'll take whatever we can get."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.