Tigers 9, White Sox 7(11)
Jim Leyland's 3,000th game as a manager was an 11-inning marathon that took more than four hours to complete, and Detroit's skipper was feeling a bit nostalgic.
He wanted to savor this one.
Brandon Inge came around on Gerald Laird's tiebreaking single in the 11th inning and the Tigers escaped with a 9-7 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday night when Manny Ramirez struck out looking with the bases loaded for the final out.
Leyland became the 18th manager to work 3,000 games, and this was as wild as any. He watched the Tigers score six against John Danks in the seventh to take a 7-3 lead only to have the bullpen give it away in the ninth.
''It's special,'' Leyland said. ''It is. Those are things you don't really share with anybody. It is what it is. I'm going to keep the lineup card. I don't usually keep things like that, but I'm going to keep this one. That's a lot of games. It's about the players, it's not about the managers. I'll leave it at that.''
The winning rally started when Inge struck out on a wild pitch from Sergio Santos (2-2) with two out and advanced all the way to third when catcher A.J. Pierzynski's hurried low throw to first hit him in the foot, bouncing to the tarp along the right-field line. Brennan Boesch was intentionally walked before Laird delivered the go-ahead single to left, his second hit.
''I've had the ball hit me enough that when it does, I know where it's going,'' Inge said. ''That's when I knew I had to get to third.''
Austin Jackson then followed with a double to left, driving in Boesch to make it 9-7, and a bullpen that gave away a four-run lead in the ninth finally finished it in the bottom half, giving the Tigers the weekend sweep.
Not that there wasn't more drama.
Alexei Ramirez led off the 11th against Eddie Bonine with a single and Alex Rios walked. Paul Konerko nearly won it, just missing a three-run homer when his shot down the left-field line landed a few feet foul before he struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch.
The Tigers then brought in Daniel Schlereth, who got A.J. Pierzynski to ground into a force before walking Carlos Quentin to load the bases.
That brought up Manny Ramirez, who looked at a 2-2 breaking ball for the third strike exactly 4 hours, 13 minutes after this one started, giving Schlereth his first career save.
''It was an all-around fun game to be a part of,'' Laird said. ''I'm just glad its over.''
The loss was the sixth straight and 10th in 12 games for the White Sox, who were swept in back-to-back series for the first time since Toronto, Baltimore and Detroit did it in succession in May 1989. They lost three to AL Central leader Minnesota before Detroit came to town, all but wiping out whatever shot they had at the division title.
''We came in against Minnesota, everything on the line, and they beat us,'' Pierzynski said. ''Then, this series we were playing hard, everyone's giving what they got, it's just not working out. That's the frustrating part.''
The ninth was particularly brutal for the Tigers' bullpen, with three walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch helping to erase what looked like a comfortable lead.
Phil Coke, filling in for closer Jose Valverde, came on and immediately gave up a leadoff ground-rule double to Pierzynski, who came around on Brent Morel's one-out single. He then walked Andruw Jones to load the bases before Juan Pierre chased him with a single to left that cut it to 7-5.
Robbie Weinhardt (2-2) came on, but the meltdown continued.
Alexei Ramirez made it a one-run game when he grounded into a force before Rios got hit in the left shoulder, loading the bases for Konerko. As the remaining fans chanted ''Paulie! Paulie!'' Weinhardt uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Alejandro De Aza, running for Jones, to score the tying run.
He then walked Konerko to reload the bases before retiring Pierzynski on a broken-bat grounder to short to end the inning.
Scott Sizemore and Casper Wells each homered for Detroit, with Wells' two-run shot coming in that big seventh against Danks.
''We played very hard? Yes we did,'' White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ''We gave everything we had out there.''
NOTES: White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game and remains day to day because of a bruised right hand. That could change if he's still in pain on Monday. ''We'll see tomorrow how it feels,'' he said. ''If it feels like it has felt over the last couple weeks tomorrow, then I don't know. We'll make that decision at that point.'' Beckham was injured when he was hit by a pitch against Cleveland on Aug. 30. He has not started since Wednesday against Minnesota, and he pinch-ran the following night. Manager Ozzie Guillen hopes to have him back on Tuesday against Oakland, although ''we're not going to push Gordon to do something he shouldn't be doing.'' ... Guillen wasn't sure if closer Bobby Jenks (right forearm) will make the trip to Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels.