CHICAGO -- While many fans were anxiously awaiting Ozzie Guillen's postgame press conference on Monday -- his last as the White Sox manager -- starter Dylan Axelrod was sweating out some anxious moments of his own in Chicago's dugout at U.S. Cellular Field.
After tossing six scoreless innings and leaving the game with a three-run lead, Axelrod seemed to be coasting toward his first Major League victory -- until the ninth inning. The Blue Jays rallied against closer Sergio Santos until he finally slammed the door on a 4-3 White Sox victory by striking out Adam Lind with two outs and the bases loaded.
The dramatic finish, which seemed only fitting given the circumstances surrounding Guillen, wasn't unfamiliar territory for Axelrod. In his first career start against the Tigers on Sept. 14, the 26-year-old right-hander was left with a no-decision after the Sox bullpen blew an identical three-run lead.
This time around, though, the White Sox were able to stop the bleeding just in time to make sure Axelrod didn't have to wait until 2012 to capture the milestone victory. Axelrod gave up just three hits over his six shutout innings, while striking out six and walking a pair.
"He just kept us off balance," Blue Jays acting manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He's got a bit of a funky delivery and it was hard for our hitters to get on time with him. He threw a lot of nice sliders and he elevates the ball just enough that we seemed to miss it. He pitched a good ballgame."
About an hour before first pitch, Guillen broke the news to his players that he wouldn't be returning as the team's manager for 2012 and that Monday would mark his final game as the club's manager. That announcement didn't seem to affect the way the White Sox came out of the gates, and if anything fueled them to a quick start.
Following a scoreless first inning, Axelrod escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the second inning unscathed and then received a three-run boost in the bottom of the inning. Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan led off the inning by walking Adam Dunn and later hit Alejandro De Aza, setting the table for a Tyler Flowers three-run homer.
Flowers' towering blast to left-center field was the only offense for either team until Dayan Viciedo's RBI knock in the seventh extended the lead to 4-0. Toronto finally put a run on the board in the eighth and then made another push at ruining Axelrod's night in the ninth.
Santos issued a leadoff walk, then gave up a single to former White Sox third baseman Mark Teahen, but then seemed to get on track with back-to-back strikeouts. Pinch-hitter David Cooper derailed him, though, with a two-run double that cut the lead to one before Santos walked the next two batters to load the bases.
On a play that seemed only fitting, Santos then struck out Lind on a ball in the dirt that bounced away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski tracked it down and beat out pinch-runner Chris Woodward in the race to home plate for the final out.
In the postgame handshake line, Guillen almost missed Pierzynski, which is something the catcher said was basically a perfect way to sum up the eventful day.
"Yeah, I think he forgot about me. I've been around so long, I think he just forgot," joked Pierzynski. "But, you know, an interesting day to say the least. What a weird way to start and end the day."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.