- 142 wins
- 110 wins
DENVER -- White Sox closer Sergio Santos playfully rolled his eyes when asked whether third-base coach Jeff Cox should be awarded player of the game honors following Chicago's 3-2 win over the Rockies at Coors Field on Wednesday night."I guess we have to, right?" Santos said. "Why not? He deserved it." Cox came out on the right side of a late-night gamble in the ninth inning, when he sent Carlos Quentin from third on A.J. Pierzynski's short fly ball. Right fielder Seth Smith caught the ball with forward momentum and uncorked a throw that appeared to be on line, but it short-hopped just in front of catcher Chris Iannetta, who couldn't corral the difficult offering. Cox rattled off the factors that led to his rolling the dice -- "[Smith] was coming in, was going to his left. He's a left-handed thrower, and he's going to have to take a little split-second to get his feet right, and, shoot, it is the ninth inning." -- but he ultimately determined that his decision could have been made easier. "A.J., could you hit it a little deeper next time?" Cox mused. "But just another game-winner from A.J. Pierzynski." The White Sox were able to engage in a little postgame razzing because they avoided a similar fate to the one they were dealt on Tuesday, when an absence of offense ultimately led to a 3-2 loss in 13 innings. Wednesday's game was setting up much the same way, as Chicago hadn't mustered a hit since the fifth inning before rallying in the ninth against Rockies closer Huston Street (0-2). Quentin led off with a single and moved to third on Paul Konerko's second hit of the game. After Alexei Ramirez struck out, Pierzynski lifted a pitch to shallow right, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was pleased with the events that transpired from there. "We had to send him," Guillen said. "The way we're playing right now, we're not scoring too many runs. You have to take a chance. We're struggling at the plate right now and we have to take the most chances we can." Rockies manager Jim Tracy said the onus was on Smith to make a throw Iannetta could handle. "You either throw the ball out in front of the catcher enough that it's going to hit the grass and take a long hop," Tracy said, "because the guy's out by at least 15 feet to give him a chance to catch the ball and brace himself, because I'm sure there's going to be a collision. Or you throw the ball all the way in the air." Chicago's winning gamble preserved another solid performance from the White Sox pitching staff, which began with a strong outing from starter Mark Buehrle. Buehrle entered Wednesday's game as the reigning king of Interleague Play, where he has a Major League record 24 wins. He couldn't wrangle No. 25 against the Rockies, earning a no-decision after giving up two runs on seven hits over seven innings, the damage coming on a pair of home runs. After the White Sox took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on run-scoring hits from Konerko and Pierzynski, Jason Giambi cut the deficit in half in the sixth on an opposite-field homer. Ty Wigginton, who delivered the game-winning hit for the Rockies on Tuesday, belted a Buehrle offering deep into the left-field seats to tie the game in the seventh. "I don't think I had my best stuff today; I was falling behind," said Buehrle, who hasn't lost a game in Interleague Play since dropping a decision to the Cubs on June 22, 2007. "I threw a lot of good changeups that they weren't swinging at, and then I threw some changeups, some bad hanging ones, that they either put in play or swung and missed. It seemed like they were sitting on changeup, so I had to go with something else." Buehrle, who struck out four and walked a pair, might best remember Wednesday's performance for his fifth-inning double -- the first for a White Sox pitcher this season -- but celebration of the knock was short-lived, as he was picked off second base by Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez. "They got on me," Buehrle said of the reaction he received from his teammates. "I guess that's what happens when you're not used to being out there." Buehrle's double was one of just four hits given up by Jimenez, who surrendered two runs over seven strong innings, matching Buehrle with four strikeouts against two walks. Guillen said he knew Jimenez was on his game from the start, which led him to employ a somewhat unusual strategy in the third inning. After Carlos Gonzalez hit a one-out triple, Guillen instructed his infield to play in on the grass. It worked, as Ramirez made a diving stab on a Jonathan Herrera ground ball that kept Gonzalez at third. Buerhle then got out of the jam by forcing Giambi to fly out to right. "You always worry about your offense and who is on the mound," Guillen said. "Ubaldo, I don't think we were going to score 10 runs against him, that's why we had to take a chance with that." Solid defense also helped the White Sox bullpen wiggle its way out of a big jam in the eighth. Gonzalez singled off reliever Matt Thorton and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After Thorton walked Giambi, he was replaced by Brian Burney (1-0), who issued a free pass to Troy Tulowitzki. But with one out, Burney got Wigginton, who delivered the game-winning hit on Tuesday, to hit into an inning-ending double play, which was started with a nice backhand stab by second baseman Gordon Beckham. The White Sox improved to 39-42 at the season's midway point, four games behind the first-place Indians and Tigers.
Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.