07/23/08 7:47 PM ET
Quentin's second homer caps Sox rally
Three-run shot in eighth proves to be difference vs. Rangers
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
For 6 1/2 innings, the White Sox didn't exactly bear a strong resemblance to the American League Central's top squad, now leading the Twins by 2 1/2 and Detroit by 5 1/2 games. They committed four errors, struck out 10 times and managed five hits off four Texas pitchers, trailing by four runs at the time.
Then, the bottom of the seventh came around, and Ozzie Guillen's third ejection of the season seemed to set off the first round of fireworks on the South Side of Chicago. Although Guillen certainly spoke his mind and then some after home-plate umpire Rob Drake tossed the White Sox manager for the 15th time in his career, those theatrics were nothing in comparison to the team's five-run, eighth-inning rally.
Carlos Quentin punctuated the uprising with a first-pitch, two-out blast into the left-center-field stands, scoring Juan Uribe and Nick Swisher ahead of him to erase a one-run deficit. The fact that Quentin's second home run of the game and 26th of the year came off the initial offering from Texas closer C.J. Wilson simply served as icing on the cake.
Wilson, as White Sox fans remember, drew the ire of Guillen and a few Sox players for showing up Quentin and Jim Thome after retiring them to escape with a 12-11 victory to close out the first half in Texas. So, the White Sox not only built up some much needed momentum, but also exacted a small amount of revenge.
"Not to me," said Guillen, when asked if it meant more for Quentin to deliver the winning drive to beat Wilson. "I'm a professional and I've been in this game a little longer to respect people.
"But I think for the team, yes. They might not say it, but they should. Always out there is the baseball gods, so be careful what you do and what you say in this game because he's going to get you back."
Most of the eighth-inning damage was inflicted by the White Sox (57-43) upon soft-tossing veteran Eddie Guardado (1-2), who was charged with four runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Alexei Ramirez singled home Paul Konerko during the rally, while Orlando Cabrera just missed a three-run home run of his own but had to settle for a sacrifice fly caught against the left-field wall to trim the margin to 8-7.
A four-pitch walk drawn by Nick Swisher ended Guardado's afternoon, setting the stage for the Quentin-Wilson matchup. It didn't last long, with Quentin doing the celebrating this time. Following Guillen's lead, Quentin didn't add extra importance to connecting off Wilson, while Wilson quickly changed the topic when asked about this particular subject.
"Because they have a tradition of winning you mean?" asked Wilson, when the frustration of losing to the White Sox was mentioned. "Me throwing a meatball and he hits a home run, that has to do with throwing a meatball and a guy hitting a home run."
"I wasn't thinking going up there, 'I'm going to get him,' or whatever happened in the past," added Quentin, who launched a fastball for the game-winner. "I was up there to compete. He's the closer, and I had to be ready to hit and that was it. That's all I have to say about it. I don't really want to comment on that."
Thome also went deep for the White Sox with two runners on in the first, as his 19th home run of the season and No. 526 of his illustrious career gave rookie hurler Clayton Richard a 3-1 lead early on in his Major League debut. Richard not only earned rave reviews by striking out seven over four innings, while allowing four earned runs on seven hits, but he also earned another start Tuesday night against the Twins at the Metrodome.
Pitching just two hours away from where he grew up in Indiana allowed a number of Richard's friends and family members to make the trip to Chicago, adding to the memory of this special day.
"Get that first one out of the way, and we got the win, which is huge," said Richard, who walked one and threw 85 pitches. "It's a relief knowing I'll at least be around for another start."
"Awesome. Great job," added Guillen. "I like what I see. He gave up a home run, and he went right after people. We don't help him at all the way we should defensively. He threw strikes and he's not afraid."
Octavio Dotel (4-4) ultimately earned the victory, with Bobby Jenks (19th save) closing out the win for his first save since June 28 against the Cubs. One night later, on June 29, Drake tossed out Cubs manager Lou Piniella at U.S. Cellular with Piniella's back turned to Drake, meaning the young umpire has ejected both Chicago baseball leaders this season.
While Guillen said he was not arguing balls and strikes but simply protecting his players, he didn't mind the ejection. Guillen can handle pretty much anything as long as the team keeps winning.
"My wife said you donated another thousand dollars. We were supposed to pay the boat with that, now we have to hold on," Guillen said with a laugh. "Once again, they can play without me, but I can't manage without them. If we play lousy, I might get kicked out a little bit more. I will donate a lot of money as long as we win."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.