WHITE SOX WALK OFF WITH SERIES

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Chicago’s Gordon Beckham hit a home run leading off the Sox half of the 11th inning to take a 3-2 win Sunday afternoon over the Rangers. The win tilted this weekend’s series to Chicago two games to one, amazing because the Sox scored runs in just four out of 28 innings in the series. Texas is finished with the Sox in the regular season, as the teams completed their head-to-head competition 3-3, with the home team winning each series two games to one.

Sunday’s game ended what all in all was a very good week for Texas. The offense struggled as the team scored just 18 runs in seven games, yet won four. The team had overnight flights two days apart going from Texas to Los Angeles after Tuesday’s game and from Los Angeles to Chicago after Thursday’s game. The heavily left-handed Ranger batting order faced left-handed starters in five of the seven games. They still turned in a winning week because the pitching was outstanding. The starters allowed just nine runs, eight of which were earned, in 45-2/3rds innings, a 1.58 ERA for the week.

Unfortunately, first place Houston went 5-2 for the week to gain a game in the standings. They lead the Rangers by 3.5 games (three in the loss column) after beating Seattle 6-2 on Sunday afternoon. The Rangers have had sole possession of second place in the West for 18 consecutive days.

Sunday started well for Texas as they quickly broke a string of three consecutive games without an extra base hit. Ryan Rua hit a first inning home run followed by a Prince Fielder double. Fielder was stranded leaving the Rangers’ lead at 1-0.

Sunday’s Ranger starter Yovani Gallardo had command problems, but shut the Pale Hose out for five innings. With a pitch count at 98, Gallardo didn’t come out for the sixth. Ross Detwiler took the mound instead and quickly surrendered the lead, as three of the first four batters singled to tie the game at one. A sacrifice fly followed to put Chicago ahead 2-1.

That lead didn’t last long though. Leonys Martin tied it at two with a solo shot in the seventh inning. The Rangers had great opportunities to score in the 10th and 11th innings as they got a runner to third base with one out. The Sox quelled the rally both times by coaxing ground balls that resulted in inning ending double plays.

Alex Claudio (1-1) surrendered Beckham’s home run in the 11th inning to get tagged with the loss. White Sox reliever Jake Petricka (2-2) earned the win.

In Friday’s series opener, the Rangers’ offense looked really puny as they appeared headed for their second straight shutout, after losing to the Dodgers Thursday night 1-0. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning, on the strength of Tyler Flowers’ fourth home run of the season in the fifth inning. Chris Sale pitched a masterful game. He held the Rangers hitless for five innings, and allowed just two in eight innings. He was dominant as he struck out 14.

Closer David Robertson took over for Sale in the ninth inning. He quickly got a pop out from Rougned Odor to start the inning, but Sin-Shoo Choo walked. Elvis Andrus followed with a single to center field that moved Choo to second base, and both base runners moved up a base on a Robertson wild pitch. Joey Gallo took a called third strike, his fourth “K” of the game, to get the Rangers down to their last out. Mitch Moreland however lined a single to right field driving in Choo and Andrus to give Texas a 2-1 lead.

Colby Lewis pitched a darn nice game too. He gave up nine hits over eight innings, but the Flowers home run was all the scoring. He struck out seven and walked no one in his best outing of the year. Shawn Tolleson came on to pitch the ninth after the Rangers took the lead. It became a scary ninth as Tolleson walked Geovany Soto and hit Adam Eaton after retiring the first two batters. However, he finally retired the side with a Melky Cabrera pop out to preserve the win.

Lewis (7-3) became the first Ranger pitcher to win seven games. Tolleson is now 10-10 in save opportunities. David Robertson (4-2) was charged with the loss and his fourth blown save.

The offense was puny again on Saturday, mustering just two runs. This time it wasn’t good enough to win, but it should have been. The White Sox put a three spot on the board in the third inning. After one run was in, Andrus missed a tailor made double play ground ball, a double play that would have ended the inning without further White Sox scoring. He later muffed another ground ball to bring his error total to 14 for the season.

Nick Martinez pitched another game in which he seemingly struggled throughout, but with very good results. Three times the White Sox left the bases loaded. A pair of double plays helped. In the end, Martinez completed six innings allowing all three White Sox runs, only two of which were earned. It was Martinez’s 11th quality start in 14 outings, which ties him with three other pitchers for the American League lead.

Eight and nine hitters in the batting order – Carlos Corporan and Rougned Odor – drove in the Ranger runs in the fifth inning.

The final score was White Sox 3 – Rangers 2, which ended an eight game losing streak for Chicago. Martinez (5-3) took the loss. Chicago’s exciting rooking Carlos Rodon (3-1) was the winning pitcher, as he threw his fifth quality start in six outings. David Robertson didn’t falter this time in the ninth inning as he threw just five pitches to retire the Rangers in order and claim his 14th save of the season.

The Rangers now come home for a brief three game home stand against Oakland. The announced starting pitchers are Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-1) on Tuesday, Wandy Rodriguez (4-2) on Wednesday, and Colby Lewis (7-3) on Thursday. The Athletics counter with Jesse Chavez (3-6), Kendall Graveman (3-4) and Sonny Gray (8-3). The Tuesday and Wednesday games have the usual 7:05 PM start time. Thursday’s getaway game for both teams starts at 1:05.

NOTABLE:

* A Joey Gallo throwing error ended the Rangers’ eight game errorless streak on Friday night.

* Texas is 9-12 in day games losing the last five since winning at Kansas City on June 6.

* Martin Perez will make a second minor league rehab start on Monday in Frisco, while Matt Harrison will start for Frisco on Wednesday.

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