Indians’ rally falls short in 4-3 loss to White Sox
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Manny Ramirez grabbed one of his bats, waved it only the way he can, and simply stood in the on-deck circle.
That was all the White Sox needed from him.
With Ramirez waiting to make his debut for Chicago a few feet away, A.J. Pierzynski connected for a tiebreaking, three-run homer off Frank Herrmann in the ninth inning to lift the White Sox to a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
Ramirez, who arrived earlier in the day to help Chicago’s playoff push, was poised to bat for Brent Lillibridge before Pierzynski came through with his first homer since July 9.
“I finally got some protection,” Pierzynski joked. “The guy (Ramirez) got a standing ovation just for coming out in the on-deck circle.”
Pierzynski drove an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right field, and as he rounded the bases, Ramirez retreated to Chicago’s dugout, where the fun-loving slugger celebrated his new teammate’s heroics by high-fiving the rest of the White Sox as if he was the one who had homered.
This is what the White Sox imagined when they claimed Ramirez on waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers — big hits and big wins.
“I’m not going to say A.J. hit a home run because of Manny,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “But when you see Manny’s presence, you have to be careful with the guy in front of him because you don’t want to face him. We didn’t have to use him.”
While it was Pierzynski who hit the decisive homer, Edwin Jackson (3-0) also was a star for Chicago.
The right-hander struck out 10 and allowed seven hits in 8 2-3 innings to help the White Sox keep pressure on first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.
Jackson gave up Shelley Duncan’s leadoff homer in the seventh, and appeared on his way to a complete game before the Indians rallied for two runs in the ninth.
He gave up a pair of one-out singles, but Guillen stuck with him — one batter too long. Jason Donald hit a two-run single and Guillen lifted Jackson to bring in closer Bobby Jenks, who had blown three saves in his last seven tries.
Jenks gave up a single to pinch-hitter Matt LaPorta before retiring Michael Brantley on a comebacker for his 25th save.
Beyond getting a big win on the final day of August, Jackson saved Chicago’s overworked bullpen by going deep in the game. He threw 129 pitches.
“He was amazing,” said Pierzynski, who was glad he could reward Jackson’s hard work. “It’s been so long since I hit a home run I almost forgot what to do.”
Jackson is making the most of being in a playoff chase after coming over from Arizona in a trade last month. He has been everything the White Sox could have hoped for.
“It’s like a new season for me, a fresh start, a fresh team,” he said. “I want to go as long as I can every game, whether the bullpen is fresh or beat up. I felt fine out there, didn’t worry about how many pitches. I’ll be fine. It had no effect on me.”
Jackson knows firsthand what it’s like to be on the mound and peer in at Ramirez.
“He makes you focus and make your pitches,” he said. “He’s one of the best hitters in the game. He has proven that and done if for years and years. He’s a great hitter. He got me earlier this year. He hit a double off me and cleared the bases.
“It’s good to have him on your team and not have to pitch against him, that’s for sure.”
Indians reliever Joe Smith (1-2) walked two batters in the ninth before he was replaced by Herrmann. As Pierzynski was headed to the plate, Guillen told Ramirez to grab a bat, but the 12-time All-Star never got a chance to do anything but warm up with it. After Pierzynski’s homer, Ramirez was called back.
Herrmann wished he could have recalled his pitch to Pierzynski.
“I made a bad pitch,” said Herrmann, who threw a slider that caught too much of the plate. “I left it up and he made me pay for it. If I make a good pitch, there’s nothing to talk about. It’s on me.”
Jackson and Cleveland starter Justin Masteron locked up in a scoreless duel for 6 innings before Duncan’s eighth homer put the Indians up 1-0.
Masterson, wildly inconsistent in his first full season with Cleveland, blanked the White Sox for the first 7 1-3 innings before Mark Teahen’s RBI single tied it 1-all.
Ramirez got to wear his black No. 99 White Sox jersey for the first time, but he didn’t get to cross the white foul lines with it on.
After getting up early for a cross-country flight, he didn’t arrive in Cleveland until mid-afternoon and Guillen decided to hold off one more day before penciling him into the heart of Chicago’s lineup. Ramirez is expected to start Wednesday’s day game, batting fifth as the DH.
NOTES: Jackson is the first White Sox starter with 10-plus strikeouts in three straight starts since LHP Floyd Bannister in 1985. … Pierzynski has hit .386 (17 for 43) with nine RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak. … Chicago 1B Paul Konerko has hit in 12 straight, going 24 for 50 (.480) with 14 RBIs. … Omar Vizquel started at second base for Chicago, filling in for Gordon Beckham, who bruised his right hand when he was hit by a pitch Monday. Guillen expects Beckham to be back as early as Friday’s series opener in Boston.
Updated August 31, 2010