Late rally lifts White Sox in opener
Seventh-inning comeback seals win over Rockies
CHICAGO -- Any concern as to the whereabouts of utility infielder Juan Uribe were answered in the seventh inning of Friday's 5-4 victory for the White Sox over the Rockies before 30,143 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Uribe had not started or had an at-bat since May 15 in Anaheim, dealing with a right groin injury during part of that 26-day absence. Uribe had not even appeared in a game since May 31 at Tampa Bay, a run of 11 games as part of baseball's witness protection program.
Yet there was Uribe, with the game on the line in the seventh, ripping a 1-1 pitch from reliever Matt Herges (2-3) up the middle for a two-run single, scoring Jermaine Dye and Nick Swisher and tying the game at 4. Uribe would come around to score the game-winning run two batters later on A.J. Pierzynski's two-out infield single, capping a three-run rally and helping the White Sox end a three-game losing streak.
Friday's come-from-behind victory, the fifth for the White Sox (38-29) when trailing after six innings, extended their home winning streak to nine straight. Factor in the Cubs' winning run of 11 in a row, and Chicago baseball fans haven't witnessed a defeat in the Windy City since May 24.
It was Uribe who was hero for the night in this latest dose of home cooking, making manager Ozzie Guillen's pregame hunch look like a work of sheer genius.
"Well, I put myself on the line that at-bat," said Guillen, with a broad smile, of Uribe. "I showed him I have confidence in him, and thank God he made me look good."
"I feel happy, and I'll feel good when I go home tonight," Uribe added. "I'm trying to help my team. This is what I can do when I get a chance to play."
Home run derby was the theme of the night prior to Uribe's hard single to center and the White Sox late uprising. Colorado (26-41) knocked out four long balls against Gavin Floyd, two coming off the bat of Ian Stewart, marking the first time a White Sox pitcher has given up four in a game since Floyd did it during the second game of a day-night doubleheader with Minnesota on July 6, 2007.
Brian Anderson's second home run and Orlando Cabrera's fourth, which extended his hitting streak to 12 games, accounted for the White Sox first two tallies. Floyd said the Rockies took advantage of some poorly-located pitches, but Anderson remarked that a hitter has to be careful with his approach at the plate with a ballpark that plays small in the summer months.
"You have to pick and choose your spots to let it go, because you can find yourself pulling off or making mistakes," Anderson said. "But it's really a great park to hit in."
"We have a good lineup and we're gonna keep fighting, especially if the other pitcher is pitching really well," added Floyd, who didn't give up another hit in 6 1/3 innings, aside from the home runs, striking out one and walking three. "I have confidence in this team that we are going to come back anytime in the game. We kept battling, and put more runs on the board."
Anderson figures to have another chance to play Saturday, and not just because left-hander Jorge De La Rosa is scheduled to be on the mound for Colorado. Guillen mentioned after Friday's victory that Jim Thome was held out of the series opener with stiffness in his back, and while he's expected to be available Saturday, Guillen might give his prolific slugger another day of rest.
As for Uribe, his next start could also come Saturday. Guillen went with Uribe on Friday because Alexei Ramirez, hitting .408 in his last 13 games, had a couple of tough at-bats in the White Sox last game against the Tigers.
There also was the sense that even though the Cuban Missile had hit his way into every day action, Uribe had not been forgotten. The veteran not only picked up Anderson on Friday, after the center fielder fanned against Herges with the bases loaded for the first out in the seventh, but Uribe gave a boost to the entire team.
That boost was evident when Uribe returned to a happy mob in the dugout, smacking him on the back and on his helmet after putting the White Sox in front.
"They have been behind me the whole time," said Uribe of his teammates. "Even when I wasn't playing, they were always there for me, just like for everyone else. It was something I expected from them."
"Wrong or right, Uribe is on my ballclub, and I have to play him," Guillen added. "He didn't do anything wrong to lose his job. Ramirez is playing good, and I just am not going to take the bat away from him. It's do-or-die with any decision a manager makes, to let him hit in that particular at-bat. He was swinging the bat pretty well, taking good pitches."
Matt Thornton (3-1) picked up the victory, while Scott Linebrink dropped his ERA to 0.75 in his last 24 games with a perfect eighth. Bobby Jenks earned his 16th save, firing a pair of 96-mph fastballs past a flailing Chris Iannetta with pinch-runner Scott Podsednik on third, to help the White Sox match their entire Interleague victory total from 2007 (four) in just four games this year.
"Look at their numbers, and their bullpen is as good as anybody in the American League," said Colorado manager Clint Hurdle of the White Sox. "They shrink the game."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.