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TEX@CWS: Eppley's wild pitch scores go-ahead run

CHICAGO -- By all appearances, the White Sox were in a gift-giving mood on Tuesday, but in the end it was the Rangers' generosity that decided the game.

After Chicago's Brent Morel erased a 3-0 Texas lead with a three-run homer in the fifth, a wild pitch by Rangers reliever Cody Eppley allowed the go-ahead run to score in the eighth, and the White Sox beat the Rangers, 4-3, to salvage a split in the two-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.

"I think when Morel hit that three-run bomb, it just changed the momentum right there," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "Anything but that -- double, single -- anything but three-run bomb. But that's the way baseball goes."

Morel's two-out shot came off Rangers starter Matt Harrison, who looked dominant at times, but seemed to lose command just enough to get him in trouble. Harrison had walked Chicago's Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios earlier in the inning.

"Even though I made that mistake to Morel, if I make that mistake without the walks, it was a three-run ballgame," said Harrison. "That was the whole key to the game, that inning there with the two bad walks. We had the momentum there and I let them back into the game."

Morel's homer ended Texas' string of 13 2/3 scoreless innings to start the two-game series. The Rangers' Colby Lewis shut out the White Sox on five hits on Monday.

"Just the same as always," said Morel. "He threw me a little slider down and in and I was trying to stay on the ball. Luckily, I got a fastball over the plate. Mistake pitch. I was fortunate to get that one."

Harrison recovered from Morel's big blow to retire the next six batters. He left the game after the seventh, having allowed three hits and three runs, walking four and striking out six. Harrison has walked nine batters over his last two starts, and has walked at least three in five of his eight outings this season.

"It's definitely frustrating. I felt good the whole game," said Harrison, whose fastball registered in the upper 90s on several occasions. "The fact of the matter is I walked too many people tonight."

An old nemesis got the Rangers in the fateful eighth. Dallas McPherson, who was called up by Chicago earlier in the day after Mark Teahen was placed on the disabled list, singled on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues this season. His pinch-hit grounder up the middle off Eppley moved Gordon Beckham to third. Beckham, who walked leading off the inning, scored when Eppley unleashed a wild pitch.

"I just couldn't get my slider where I wanted it tonight," said Eppley. "It was just kind of staying out there. Right now, it's all frustrating, to be honest.

"It was tough night for me. I didn't make the pitches I needed to. It was one of those nights. You just have to shake it off and start tomorrow all over again."

McPherson batted .297 with three homers and eight RBIs in 37 at-bats against Texas when he played for the AL West rival Angels. Even though he hadn't gotten a big league hit since Sept. 10, 2008, McPherson's success against the Rangers continued as if he'd never been away. His night was short -- he was removed for pinch-runner Juan Pierre -- but the damage was done when Eppley's pitch got away.

"It was a slider that Eppley yanked," said Washington. "[Alexei] Ramirez is a very aggressive hitter, so he tried to get a slider in and out of the zone and he yanked it. [Catcher Yorvit Torrealba] couldn't get to it.

When asked if Torrealba might have thrown his body in front of Eppley's errant pitch, Washington bristled.

"That's easy to say, 'Throw your body at the ball.' But when you're looking for a slider that's supposed to be coming off the plate and then it goes like that, sometimes it gets you," Washington said.

Texas climbed out to its early 3-0 lead thanks to some shaky early pitching and defense from the White Sox. The Rangers scored the first two runs of the game against struggling White Sox starter John Danks, a former Rangers farmhand who entered the game with a record of 0-6.

Danks walked Endy Chavez to start the game. Chavez went to third on Elvis Andrus' single and scored when Ian Kinsler bounced into a double play. In the second, Danks walked the bases full after two were out. Mike Napoli scored when Ramirez fumbled a routine grounder to short for an error. The early tally for Texas: two runs, one hit, four walks and zero RBIs.

Texas finally got an RBI in the fourth, an inning started by another free pass from Danks, who walked David Murphy. Murphy went to third on Napoli's single and scored on Torrealba's sacrifice fly. That's all the Rangers got against Danks, however, who received a no-decision after working into the seventh.

"Danks is a gamer," said Michael Young. "We've known that since he was in big league camp with us, when he was a Minor Leaguer. He's going to compete and he's going to stay with it. I think it was a matter of him locking it in again and starting to pound the zone. He made big pitches when he needed to."

Chavez, who went 3-for-5 on Monday for his first hits in a Major League game in nearly two years, reached base four times on Tuesday. In addition to the walk, he reached on an error in the second, doubled in the fifth and dropped down a bunt single in the seventh, the second straight night he's done that.

"The last few games, [Chavez has] been great," said Young. "He's a big league batter and he knows exactly what he's doing. He's proven over the course of his career that he can be a productive part of a big league lineup. We're happy to have him."

Harrison has struggled with command problems but early on took advantage of the overanxious White Sox, losers in 10 of their last 11 home games entering Tuesday. Harrison limited Chicago to one hit through four innings before his command problems jumped up to bite him in the fifth.

"Put too many on the bags," said Washington. "[Harrison] was doing a pretty good job there. He got himself in trouble a couple of times with the bases on balls, but he got out of it. Then he had Morel in the hole, 1-2, and he got a fastball up and he didn't miss it. From that point on, it looked like the momentum changed and we couldn't get anything going."

Young singled in the eighth, extending his road hitting streak to 17 games, the longest in baseball this season. Young went to second on Adrian Beltre's deep fly to right, hustling to beat Quentin's throw. After Murphy was intentionally walked, Napoli's grounded one towards the hole between third and short, but Morel made a diving stop, forcing Murphy at second and saving a run. Torrealba popped to short to end the inning, leaving the Rangers 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

"If you've got an opportunity and you're not cashing it in, sometimes you have to give the pitcher credit for doing what he has to do out there," said Washington. "We just didn't deliver."

Even though the Rangers let one get away on Tuesday, Young says the team should be happy with its quality of play of late.

"Sometimes you just take the right approach," said Young. "If you take the right approach, I like our chances more often than not. Tonight, we just didn't get the big knock. That's all right. If we continue to do what we've been doing the last week or so, we're going to be fine." Comments