Sox ride homers to Civil Rights Game win
Four long balls include Beckham's first, Ramirez's tiebreaker
CINCINNATI -- Years from now, the White Sox 10-8 victory over the Reds during Major League Baseball's third annual Civil Rights Game on Saturday night at Great American Ball Park won't exactly be shown to impressionable young players as an example of textbook fundamental play.
There were four errors committed by the White Sox, with a chance for two more to be charged. Alexei Ramirez was picked off first base on a hit-and-run call made by manager Ozzie Guillen in the fifth, and starter Clayton Richard exited after three inconsistent innings.
No, it was not a baseball sight to behold, during a game that covered 3 hours, 39 minutes. But the White Sox didn't seem to care about style points.
"That's a huge win, especially losing a starter early and with four errors in the game," said White Sox reliever Scott Linebrink, who threw a scoreless eighth as one of six White Sox pitchers in the victory. "A lot of things didn't go right for us. Hats off to our offense, who battled back and put up runs."
"It's exciting to have that resiliency and fight and ability," said Richard of the White Sox offense. "It shows a lot about our guys."
Try as they might to give away this second contest of a three-game weekend set, the White Sox (32-36) actually produced their top comeback of the 2009 campaign. Trailing, 5-0, in the fourth and with Johnny Cueto, the National League ERA leader, on the mound, the South Siders looked all but certain to drop six games behind Detroit in the American League Central.
But singles from Brian Anderson and Chris Getz with one out in the fourth were followed by Gordon Beckham's first career home run on a 2-1 offering from Cueto. Beckham's 384-foot blast stood as the first of four long balls for the White Sox, all but erasing the sting of the season-high quartet of miscues.
"Down 5-0 on the road, it's tough to come back," Beckham said. "We did, we clawed and we kept putting up runs. We put pressure on them and came out with a big win."
"Facing the pitcher we were facing, facing Cueto, I don't think we were going to be back in the game so fast," Guillen said.
Saturday night's game-winner actually was delivered by Ramirez, whose three-run home run in the sixth came on the first pitch thrown by one-time White Sox reliever Nick Masset. Ramirez's eighth home run marked his third in four games, snapping a 5-5 tie, and served as one of four hits and three of his four RBIs.
Scott Podsednik (No. 2, among his three hits) and A.J. Pierzynski (No. 7) also cleared the fences. It was Ramirez's 363-foot drive, though, which turned the tide of the game.
"I was trying to throw a slider, and it spun right down the middle," said Masset of Ramirez's blast to left. "It's probably the first time I've thrown a spinning slider right down the middle and the worst time to do it."
Richard gave up five runs, three of them earned, over three innings, while striking out four and walking one. He also committed his second error in two starts, contributing directly to a run for the Reds (34-33) in the third.
To show how important this game was in Guillen's mind, he lifted Richard for pinch-hitter Josh Fields in the fourth after just 65 pitches, and following Beckham's three-run home run.
"There was one shot I had to get us back in the game," Guillen said. "Besides, I had a gut feeling he was not throwing the ball well."
"If I throw the ball well and make the plays on the mound, they are not looking at that situation," Richard said. "But that's not my call at all. It's their decision."
D.J. Carrasco (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the victory, while Bobby Jenks gave up Jay Bruce's 17th home run in the ninth as the only blemish on his 16th save.
In between the two, Matt Thornton pitched out of a first-and-third, nobody-out situation in the seventh, which he partially created by giving up consecutive singles to pinch-hitter Wilkin Castillo and Ramon Hernandez in relief of Octavio Dotel, allowing the Reds to cut the lead to one. Thornton struck out Bruce swinging, retired Ryan Hanigan on a short pop fly to Anderson and Adam Rosales' grounder to Beckham at third ended the threat.
This victory improved the White Sox to 4-3 on their eight-game Interleague road trip and marked the first time they scored 10 runs in a game since May 29 at Kansas City. A frequently maligned offense deserved the lion's share of credit for this success story, which went from a standing-eight count to a thunderous knockout like the ones that brought fame and fortune to Muhammad Ali, who was one of the honorees during the Civil Rights Game weekend.
It's up to Mark Buehrle, with the support of this same strong offense, to build on the momentum Sunday afternoon.
"We might roll from here," Beckham said. "Hopefully, we can put a star by that one at the end of the season."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.