Podsednik's hit caps group effort
Beckham, Carrasco key contributors as Sox topple Angels
CHICAGO -- The White Sox highlight reel from Tuesday's 5-4 victory over the Angels before 30,228 at U.S. Cellular Field will start with Scott Podsednik's third walk-off hit of the 2009 campaign.
And rightfully so. Podsednik's drive lashed into right-center off of Kevin Jepsen (3-3) scored Jayson Nix, who had doubled with two outs to start the ninth-inning rally, and moved the White Sox (55-52) within one game of first-place Detroit (55-50) in the American League Central.
That tape of Tuesday's top moments then might move to Gordon Beckham, who launched his sixth home run of the season off of Los Angeles starter John Lackey in the opening inning and singled home Podsednik with the tying run in the seventh.
A pregame ceremony honoring Mark Buehrle, during what has been dubbed the Mark Buehrle Appreciation Series, might even be next on the late-night sports shows. It's too bad for D.J. Carrasco that the work put in by middle relievers often goes unnoticed.
In Tuesday's series opener, the White Sox don't topple the American League West leaders without Carrasco's four stellar innings in relief of erratic starter Jose Contreras. A smiling Carrasco didn't seem to mind playing second, third or fourth fiddle to the rest of the night's heroics.
"No, I don't," said Carrasco, who struck out five and allowed one run on two hits as part of his extended, 58-pitch stint. "Like I said, as a middle reliever, the least amount of time I get coverage from the media, it's probably better for me. If I can fly under the radar at this position, it means I'm having a good season."
"He's had a few tough times," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "Every time we give him the ball and we need it the most, he's come out and shown up."
Carrasco was called into service with two outs in the third inning when Contreras simply couldn't find the strike zone. The Angels (63-41) scored three runs in the third on just one Bobby Abreu single, taking advantage of four walks issued by Contreras.
Over his last two starts, covering 8 1/3 innings, Contreras has walked 10 and yielded six runs. Contreras pointed out after the game that his shoulder was flying open on delivery, which might be causing his bout of wildness, and added how he would review the videos with pitching coach Don Cooper.
Guillen held his tongue when questioned about the veteran starter.
"If I'm going to talk about Jose here, I might say the wrong thing about him," Guillen said. "First of all, I think he's got to pick up the tempo. That's the first thing to me he's got to do, just attack the strike zone with the best stuff you have.
"Today, nothing was a strike. No matter what he threw, it was balls. That's a big reason I tried to get him out of there the quickest I could, to give us a chance to win."
Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly tied the game at 3 in the third, coming one inning after Carlos Quentin's 11th home run had given the White Sox a 2-0 lead. Quentin is 5-for-9 lifetime against Lackey, with three long balls.
"I need to find a little luck in this place," said Lackey, who was defeated by a Quentin home run in Chicago last year on May 25. "[Quentin] walked off last year ... two solo homers."
Trailing 4-3 in the seventh, Podsednik reached base with a two-out double on what amounted to a swinging bunt that sailed over the head of third baseman Chone Figgins and fell just barely fair down the left-field line. Beckham ripped a 1-1 pitch to left field, easily scoring Podsednik for a 4-4 tie.
Beckham, who was named AL Rookie of the Month for July earlier Tuesday, now has produced a multihit effort in seven of his last eight games. He has 19 RBIs in his last 21 games, and is providing a powerful one-two punch with Podsednik at the top of the lineup.
"Just taking my hits when I get them, and I had a couple to help the team," said Beckham, now hitting .316 with 38 RBIs. "So, I'm happy about that fact."
"He's driving in runs, he's getting on base, he's coming up with big hits," said Podsednik. "He's showing that he can make an impact at this level already."
Matt Thornton (6-2) earned Tuesday's victory, allowing one hit and striking out one over 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. Randy Williams and Tony Pena combined for a scoreless frame before Thornton, but it was Carrasco who truly deserved a moment in the spotlight.
"Yeah, it feels like a great team win," Carrasco said. "Contreras had his struggles early, but it was a big time bullpen win. We kept the team in there and the offense came through when we needed them."
"This ballclub, it's nice to see a ballclub when the way we start and we don't just fall down," Guillen said. "We just keep plugging it in, keep playing. One run here and another run there. And our bullpen keeps us in the game."
Tuesday's victory moved the White Sox to 8-8 in this stretch of 18 straight games against first-division, above-.500 opponents. It also ended the Angels' eight-game road winning streak and five-game streak overall.
Hero status goes to Podsednik, Beckham and even Quentin. As Carrasco pointed out, though, the White Sox, as a team, improved their record to 15-5 in their last 20 home games.
"Game-winners are always nice," Podsednik said. "But most importantly, we bounced back from a defeat on Sunday against the [Yankees], playing a good team like Anaheim."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.