Even the hot bat of Alexei Ramirez couldn’t overcome a bullpen blowup on Wednesday night.
The shortstop’s two-run home run in the sixth inning tied Frank Thomas’ team-record hitting streak to start the season but it was lost in a miserable two-inning stretch as the Boston Red Sox rallied and later beat the White Sox 6-4 in 14 innings in front of 13,302 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Eight White Sox relievers, a group that included utility infielder Leury Garcia, walked 11 batters and hit another over the final eight innings to blow the two-run lead Ramirez provided them. The blast extended Ramirez’s hitting streak to start the season to 15 games, which tied the mark established by Thomas in 1996.
But White Sox pitchers walked 15 batters and hit two others.
“For one reason or another we didn’t seem to throw it over,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “If you are going to give them that many opportunities, you are little surprised you are in it that late into the game. You just can’t give them that many opportunities.”
The extra chances have been plentiful through the first 15 games.
A day after the unit showed promise with 2 1/3 scoreless innings, the White Sox bullpen had one of its worst showings to date.
With everyone else used, Garcia made his pitching debut when he took the mound in the top of the 14th. With two outs he walked Daniel Nava and Jonathan Herrera before Jackie Bradley Jr. finally took advantage with a two-run double to right field.
Before Bradley’s double, the Red Sox had been 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
Garcia followed Daniel Webb, who walked three batters and allowed a run over three innings in a 59-pitch performance.
Four pitchers -- Scott Downs, Jake Petricka, Donnie Veal and Maikel Cleto -- combined to walk four batters in the eighth inning, though the Red Sox only scored once. Cleto stranded the bases loaded in the eighth but walked the first two batters in the ninth before closer Matt Lindstrom took over.
Lindstrom allowed a Gomes’ infield single that loaded the bases and Grady Sizemore tied it with a sacrifice fly.
It was the third blown save in four tries for Lindstrom, who got out of the jam when A.J. Pierzynski, who produced a run in the eighth with a sacrifice fly, grounded out. Pierzynski stranded seven runners and went 0-for-6.
White Sox relievers have walked 38 batters in 48 innings.
“We’re giving people a little too much credit, especially with the stuff we have, myself included,” Lindstrom said. “We need to do a better job of staying aggressive and I think tomorrow as a bullpen we can sit out there and talk a little about making sure we stay aggressive with our stuff in the zone because we’ve got a pretty good defense behind us too. We need to realize that.”
The team’s offense isn’t bad either.
Ramirez has been a focal point and continued that when he got ahead in the count 2-1 and ripped an 88-mph fastball from Boston starter Clay Buchholz into the bullpen for a two-run homer.
The White Sox didn’t produce much else against Buchholz, who limited them to three runs over six innings.
Boston’s bullpen held the White Sox in check until the 11th when Tyler Flowers tied the game at 4 with an RBI single with two outs.
Despite limited support, Danks was in line for the victory.
He allowed three straight hits to start the game and fell behind 1-0 on an RBI single by Bogaerts. But then Danks set down seven straight batters.
He also walked three batters in the third inning but got out of trouble with a grounder off the bat of Pierzynski. Danks -- who threw 111 pitches -- went on to set down 10 of the last 12 he faced. He allowed a run and three hits with four walks. He struck out three.
“I wish I could have gone deeper and saved those guys a little bit,” Danks said. “But I have full confidence in those guys and I believe truly whenever I come out of the game that it’s going to happen. Even the best bullpens in the league lose a lead like that.”