video thumbnail

Inge's clutch single scores go-ahead run

CHICAGO -- The A's weren't about to let a fence decide their fate.

No, Brandon Inge and Jonny Gomes had a different date with destiny planned on this night, at the same time the Petaluma Little Leaguers -- proudly representing Gomes' hometown -- were securing their spot in the Little League World Series.

After Cliff Pennington nearly tied the game in the seventh inning, the A's scored twice in the eighth for a 9-7 victory over the White Sox on Saturday night.

Pennington's drive to right-center field looked like it would tie the game for the A's, but the ball skipped through the fence for a ground-rule double to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring. The next inning, Gomes took matters into his own hands with a game-tying homer.

Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Carter kept the rally going with singles, and they were on first and third with two outs when Inge stepped to the plate.

Inge had dislocated his right shoulder in the seventh while diving for an infield hit off the bat of Alex Rios yet stayed in the game after popping it back in place. It was nothing out of the norm for the gritty veteran, who said he's dislocated his left shoulder "at least 16, 17 times."

One inning after his mishap, Inge brought home the go-ahead run with a single down the right-field line.

"I was surprised he stayed in the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He stayed in and ends up getting the biggest hit. We all know he's a very tough guy and can play with a lot of pain, and where he will be tomorrow I'm not sure."

He will be playing, if it's up to Inge.

"They know I want to play," Inge said. "I'm stubborn. I'm planning on playing. Obviously, if I feel like I'm going to be a detriment to the team, I won't play. If I feel like I have something to offer, I'll play through some pain."

Such a mentality very much represents what this A's team is all about.

White Sox lefty Francisco Liriano, despite wearing a different uniform since the last time he faced the A's, appeared to pick up right where he left off against them. After compiling 15 strikeouts against Oakland while still with the Twins on July 13, Liriano tallied five in the first two innings.

Yet the A's had a different ending in mind for Liriano this time, tagging him for five runs in the third, which was highlighted by two-run hits off the bats of Carter and Derek Norris that erased a 2-0 Twins lead.

Josh Reddick's RBI in the fourth put the A's ahead, 6-2, and also proved to be the last off Liriano, who exited after the single with just one out in the frame.

A's lefty Travis Blackley, meanwhile, watched his lead narrow, as he surrendered an RBI single to Tyler Flowers in the fourth, before offering up a two-run home run to Kevin Youkilis in the fifth -- which would be his last inning -- to allow Chicago to move within one.

"[Chicago] is a bloody good team," Blackley said. "They kept coming no matter how much we had a lead. We could feel it, too. You could feel their intensity. They just kept trying to create something, and I could definitely feel it. But then us, I felt it early and then later, too. Our guys, they saw an opportunity and took care of it."

Flowers struck again in the sixth inning with a game-tying solo shot off Jordan Norberto. One inning later, Norberto allowed Youkilis to reach on a leadoff single, before handing the ball over to Ryan Cook with one out. Cook, removed from the closer's role until further notice, surrendered back-to-back singles, as Chicago went up, 7-6, but not for long.

Not with Gomes waiting on deck. Gomes tied the see-saw affair back up with his homer against White Sox lefty Matt Thornton.

"We're always a hit away," Gomes said. "Fortunately, we've gotten those big hits at home, which tells you right away we have the composure to do it, but sometimes it's nice to get that on the road, too.

"Thornton is not going to walk you. You just gotta be aggressive early and I got a slider from him, 0-0. If I got a slider from him, I knew it was going to be early in the count, so I was just trying to put the ball in play the first few pitches of the at-bat."

Gomes later helped the A's add on in the ninth with an RBI single. Quite a night for the pride of Petaluma, Calif.

"I had a game of my own to play, but at the same time, I had some spotters up here for me, and if you wanna give Petaluma National Little League credit for a single in the big leagues, that's fine with me," Gomes said, smiling.

"When you get big hits like that, it means a lot to your team," Melvin said. "That home run was huge, and now all of a sudden we're tied again. He reinvigorated us, and then gave us more in the ninth.

"That was a battle. We're so used to our bullpen and our pitching to be so good that it's time that the offense pick them up. That's what happened tonight."

MLB.com Comments