Sun. Final: White Sox 5, Brewers 4
By Todd Welter
Next game: Monday, June 15th vs. Cleveland
It is not every day a manager picks a pitcher to pinch run. It is not every day that Trevor Hoffman gives up a run either.
Those two instances came together that helped the Chicago White Sox squeak out a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
Hoffman came on in the ninth inning trying to keep the game tied at four. He got the first out but gave up a walk to pinch hitter Jim Thome in an at-bat that saw two future Hall of Famers battle each other out. Thome does three things very well: hit home runs, strikeout and take walks. Running the bases is not something that will be noted on his Hall of Fame plaque. So White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen choose pitcher Clayton Richard to run the basepath for Thome.
"I had [Ramon] Castro and [Jermaine] Dye on the bench and I'm not going to use either one," Guillen reasoned. "I have to put somebody out there with a little bit better speed than Jimmy. The best athlete on my staff was Clayton and that is why Richard was out there."
It was an interesting decision but an interesting decision that paid off when A.J. Pierzynski hit a rolling single to right-center. Richard scored from second to be the first runner all year to score on Hoffman.
"You make moves and you get nervous," Guillen said. "You just got to make the best move for the ballclub."
That snapped Hoffman's (0-1) 18.2-consecutive innings in which he did not give up a run--which tied a franchise mark.
"That's statistics so I think the biggest stat you got to worry about is that it was a loss for the team," Hoffman felt.
In Hoffman's defense, Pierzynski was a tough out all day as he went 3-for-5 with three singles and drove in the game-winning run. Pierzynski worked a 3-0 count which forced Hoffman into a tough spot--walk him or try to throw a strike. Hoffman went with the strike option and he left a pitch over the plate that Pierzynski was not going to take.
"He did a nice job of hitting it kind of where it was pitched and it found a hole," Hoffman explained.
Hoffman did admit his mindset was not to put Pierzynski on base with a walk despite an open base and the type of day Pierzynski was having.
"That one was on me. I got a little bullish by not giving in. If your not going to do that, you got to make sure it is a better pitch. A better pitch probably would have been a ball but A.J. is a tough guy to get out in general."
Bobby Jenks picked up his 14th save of the year by protecting the Sox slim lead in the ninth as the White Sox (30-34) are now 8-2 in interleague play. Matt Thornton (4-1) got his fourth win of the year by being part of White Sox bullpen effort that retired nine of the last 10 Brewers batters.
The Crew got on the scoreboard first when Prince Fielder drove in Casey McGehee with a single in the Brewers' half of the first.
The Sox got it back to even in the third on pitcher Mark Buehrle's first career home run. The Brewers answered back with a run in the bottom of the frame on a solo blast by McGehee. McGehee's bat continued to stay hot as he went 3-for-4. McGehee extended his hitting streak to six games and he is hitting .404 over his last 17 games.
The Sox went ahead the next inning as they scored three runs on three hits. Prized rookie Gordon Beckham drove in two with a double and he plated a run on former Brewer Scott Podsednik's RBI single.
Corey Hart tied the game up at four with solo blasts in the fourth and sixth inning. Hart seems to breaking out of his recent slump as he has gone 7-for16 with two homers and 6RBI over his last four games.
"I feel confident and feel like I can do something out there," Hart described. "It is something that comes and goes. Right now I got it so I'm trying to ride with it."
Both starting pitchers had to settle for no decisions. Both Braden Looper and Buehrle had a lot in common in their stat line. They both lasted six innings, both gave up four earned runs each and both gave up seven hits a piece. The only difference was Looper struck out two and had one hit batter. Buehrle had five strikeouts and walked one.
"You can only control what you do and when I went out there, it was like I lost if for an inning and a half," Looper summarized. "We should have won that game. I should have pitched better in the third."
The Brewers (34-29) have now lost six of their last seven games and went 1-5 on this homestand.