CHICAGO -- If Friday night's crisp pitchers' duel between Zack Greinke and Chris Sale represented the Rembrandt of baseball games, then Saturday's 8-6 White Sox win over the Brewers falls closer to the Dogs Playing Poker on black velvet category.
But there are no bonus points for stylish victories, and after losing seven of their last nine games, Saturday's 3 1/2-hour, sometimes plodding contest played before 30,337 at U.S. Cellular Field was just as significant as a no-hitter or perfect game. With every other team in the American League Central losing Saturday's Interleague action, this victory actually held even greater importance.
"We'll take every one," said White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda.
"It has been a rough go over the last week and a half and we showed that we're still in it, we're still fighting the right way," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "That game was not easy. It felt like we kept clawing ourselves out, clawing ourselves out and we came out on top."
Viciedo and Beckham played major roles during the club's eighth win in 17 Interleague contests.
After going 7-for-53 previously in June, producing one extra-base hit and one multi-hit game during the month, Viciedo knocked out three hits and drove in four against the Brewers (33-38). Viciedo singled home one run off Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf during a two-run second and then launched a two-run home down the right-field line with one out in the fourth to give the White Sox (37-34) a 4-2 lead.
His run-scoring single in the sixth off Kameron Loe chipped a 6-4 Milwaukee advantage to one run.
"Mainly, his power and where he goes is to right field," said Wolf of Viciedo, who now has 13 homers and 34 RBIs. "I left a curveball up. He's one of those guys that really doesn't need to get it all to hit it out that way."
"Today was one of those where I had a great practice," Viciedo said. "That always translates into games. What I did during practice came through on the field, so it was a great day."
Beckham's three hits raised his average to .246, and he added an important insurance run with a run-scoring single in the eighth against Tim Dillard. Alex Rios, who also chipped in three hits, delivered the game-winner with a seventh-inning single to center against reliever Jose Veras to score Beckham after Paul Konerko was intentionally walked.
That one-run lead barely survived the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and two outs, closer Addison Reed replaced Matt Thornton in search of his first four-out save with the right-handed power of Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart due up.
Reed walked Ramirez to load the bases, instead of giving in on a 3-1 count. Hart hit the next pitch on the ground to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, and after a brief bobble, he got the force at second to end the threat. Reed then cruised through the ninth for his ninth save.
"I like it. It just means I'm out there longer," said Reed of the four-out save. "The longer I'm out there, the more fun I have. I was glad I got the opportunity. I kind of feed off of those situations. I love being out there pitching no matter who is up."
Milwaukee grabbed a 6-4 lead against White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod and relievers Will Ohman and Nate Jones with three runs in the sixth, but Jones retired Ryan Braun on a fly ball to Rios with the bases loaded and two outs to keep the White Sox in the game. Orlando Hudson's two-strike double off Loe tied the game in the bottom half of the frame.
Axelrod, making his first start in place of the injured Philip Humber, gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. He fanned three and hit two, but while he went to five full-counts, he never issued a walk. He'll get another chance on the mound and to live a personal dream by starting Thursday's series opener at Yankee Stadium.
"Both teams battled, and I feel like I kept us in the game," said Axelrod, who last pitched on June 14 for Triple-A Charlotte. "The offense picked me up at the end there. We needed that one. Hopefully, we'll go out tomorrow and take another step forward and maybe get back into first place."
Wolf yielded five runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings and was lucky to get off that easy. Defensive gems from Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez and Rickie Weeks in the first inning turned three hard-hit balls into a perfect frame.
Brent Lillibridge had the defensive gem of the game with one out in the fifth, as he raced into right-center to corral Gomez's long blast and then ran into the wall on the fly after making the catch. So there was some beauty in a game that wouldn't exactly be considered a work of art.
This win propelled the White Sox to within one-half game of the Indians for the division's top spot. Their 14 hits just might have awoken an offense hitting .202 with 26 runs scored over that rough nine-game stretch.
"You can sit there and hang your head and not do anything, but these guys have the ability to take it day by day and not let yesterday affect today," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's a credit to these guys."