Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010
Updated 11:41 PM
By Brett Ballantini
Leading off the second inning for the Boston Red Sox, noted slugger David Big Papi Ortiz laid down a bunt, attempting a single. Known more for clearing the table than setting it out, possibly even unable to outdash noted Chicago White Sox speedster Paul Konerko, the genial giant was retired by some two dozen steps on his sneak attack on the White Sox infield.
Later, Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski chided Ortiz, his former Minnesota Twins teammate, for his attempt at smallball, which earned him sunflower seeds tossed in derision from the Bosox bench.
Just a week or two ago, both Soxes were engaged in high-stakes, do-or-die fights for their playoff lives, but with both teams now eliminated from the postseason, tension gave way to relaxed play when the two teams tangled on Wednesday night.
Long after the seed wars, the White Sox used a three-run seventh to vanquish the Red Sox, 5-2. Freddy Garcia was outstanding in his final start for Chicago, hurling seven-plus innings of four-hit, two-run ball and registering his 18th quality start of the season, a percentage trailing only John Danks on the vaunted White Sox staff.
I wanted to finish strong, like I said before, show them here and everybody else I still can pitch, said Garcia, who raised his season record to 12-6 and his career mark vs. Boston to 8-2. I missed two starts with my back, but Im battling. Ive always been that way. I try to do my job, and today that was essential.
I said in spring training that if Freddys healthy, hes going to produce, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Hes been doing that all his career. He was a very good pitcher before his shoulder injury and then he had to change everything; he was a power pitcher, and now he has to throw strikes, change speeds and be a very smart pitcher.
The winning rally began with a leadoff infield hit by Alejandro De Aza and was advanced by a soft bloop to left field by Juan Pierre. Omar Vizquel battled Red Sox starter Josh Beckett to 2-2, then lined a sharp single to center, scoring De Aza. Brent Lillibridge, subbing in the game for Carlos Quentin who withdrew with an ankle injury, then dropped down a sacrifice bunt that was so well-placed it drew an overthrow from catcher Victor Martinez, allowing Pierre to score from second. After A.J. Pierzynski was intentionally walked to load the bases, Alexei Ramirez tapped a single just out of the reach of Bosox shortstop Jed Lowrie, plating Vizquel and putting the White Sox up, 4-2.
We took advantage of Beckett, we moved guys here and there, a lot of hit and run, bunt, Guillen said. We made him throw a lot of pitches and the last couple of days weve been good at that.
But with the bases full, nobody out and Hideki Okajima on in relief of Beckett, Manny Ramirez looked at a called third strike and Mark Kotsay grounded into a double play, falling to 0-for-25 against lefthanders this season.
We even let Beckett off the hook a couple of times, Guillen said. We knew we were facing a good one, and overall we did a good job.
Scoring had opened in the fourth, the Red Sox striking with a double by Marco ScutaroBostons first hit of the gameand Ortizs two-out tapper down the left-field line, stymieing the defensive shift against him. Pierzynski answered for the White Sox in the bottom half, nudging out a towering fly that dropped mere feet beyond the 335 sign on the right-field wall.
In the eighth, Bostons Lowell slugged a solo shot that cut the White Sox lead to 4-2. Chicago countered with a couple of singles and a double-play off the bat of Pierre that plated Brent Morel and finished the games scoring at 5-2.
Matt Thornton came on for another what-new, inning-plus effort, tossing 1 13 perfect innings for his eighth save.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.