White Sox take KC opener in extras
Cabrera's 13th-inning double clinches victory over Royals
KANSAS CITY -- A win will always be enough. Ozzie Guillen admits that much.
But one like Tuesday's 13-inning 8-7 White Sox victory, full of blown leads, a 1-for-16 showing with runners in scoring position and starting pitching that didn't make it through the sixth, doesn't exactly make Guillen wish his team played like this every day.
"The only good thing about this game is we won," Guillen said. "That was a real bad game."
At least it was entertaining. First, the White Sox came back. Then, they blew it. Finally, they won. It took an exhausting 13 innings, but when Nick Masset got Mark Grudzielanek to ground into a bases-loaded double play, Chicago came out on top and improved its record against Kansas City to 4-0 this season.
Give credit to the Royals for trying. They tend to stick around with the White Sox. The teams went 15 innings in a game in June, which Chicago won. This one ended just a little bit earlier, when Alexei Ramirez scored the game-winning run.
He got home fast. Ramirez left first base after Orlando Cabrera hit the ball into left-field gap and didn't slow down until he reached the plate.
"When I get on first base," Ramirez said, "I say I can score. I look at coaches, but I really make a decision once I see the ball hit."
Ramirez scored another run on the night as well. That one was remarkable, too. It came in the 11th inning, with the game tied at 5. A.J. Pierzynski hit a pop fly to deep center field that Joey Gathright caught, stumbling near the wall at the same time.
Joe Crede scored easily from third. Ramirez was on second, and scored just before the relay reached home. That's right, he tagged up and scored from second base.
Ramirez also had a career-high four hits on the night, raising his average to .310, tops among AL rookies.
The Sox 7-5 lead seemed safe in the bottom of the 11th when Scott Linebrink came in, looking for his second save in the last two games. But this game wouldn't have been so ugly for Chicago if no complications arose.
David DeJesus drove in one run on a sacrifice fly. Then, Alex Gordon ripped a line drive that barely went over Jermaine Dye's head in right field. Mike Aviles, who had singled, scored on the hit.
Just like that, the lead was gone.
"I have really have only two words for my night," Linebrink said, "I stink. Fortunately, we have a great team and offense. It's disappointing for me, just because of the way we battled back in that game and were able to come back. I wanted to go out there and end it. You really just see the heart in these guys."
Linebrink has now given up five runs in his past four appearances after allowing just two runs in his previous 31.
He came into the game with an opportunity for the save only because Chicago battled back, not just in the 11th, but also during regulation. The White Sox were down, 4-1, in the sixth when Jim Thome scored on a Paul Konerko groundout. Crede followed with a solo home run.
Chicago tied the game at 5 in the eighth when Nick Swisher singled to score Thome and Crede hit a sacrifice fly.
Of course, the real comeback didn't occur until the 13th, more than four hours after the first pitch, when Ramirez scored the game-winning run.
"That's a great sign of a winning ballclub," Guillen said. "That's only thing we did right today. Keep fighting, stand up on your feet and fight."
More good news about the night for Guillen: Minnesota lost to Boston, giving Chicago a 2 1/2-game lead in the division standings. Unlike the Sox, the Twins gave up their lead and didn't come back.
Chicago also won its first road game of July. Not a bad sign, considering the White Sox were 2-8 away from home in June.
That's why this win was enough, like always. But just barely enough.
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.