Stumbling into a victory

SportsBaseballMagglio OrdonezJoe CredeDamaso MarteToby HallKeith Foulke

Frank Thomas didn't get thrown out at the plate Monday, ending his two-game streak. "I didn't have a chance," Thomas said with a laugh.

Thomas had the day off, but he did get an opportunity to watch his teammates get thrown out at home instead.

Though the White Sox wound up with a 4-3 comeback win over Tampa Bay to salvage a four-game series split against the worst team in baseball, they continued to look clueless on the base paths.

"It's been one thing after another, a proliferation of things," Sox manager Jerry Manuel said.

Aaron Rowand had a few misadventures, and Willie Harris was thrown out at home while attempting to score on a wild pitch. In the end, slow-footed Joe Crede scored from first on Mark Johnson's triple in the ninth, saving the Sox from another embarrassing loss.

The seasonlong saga of inept baserunning continued in the sixth inning on a leadoff triple by Rowand, who had taken two cortisone shots before the game to combat neck pain. Rowand chugged into third standing up and was nearly tagged out by third baseman Jared Sandberg. Third-base coach Wallace Johnson pleaded "mea culpa" once again.

"I was going to slide because it was close, but Wally gave me the stand-up sign," Rowand said. "I had to slow down, or else I would've run past the base."

Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall nearly picked off Rowand on the third pitch to Carlos Lee, but Rowand slid back headfirst, aggravating his neck pain. After Lee took a called third strike, Magglio Ordonez hit a sharp grounder to Sandberg, who easily threw Rowand out at the plate.

Johnson said Rowand thought the ball was hit to shortstop. He opted not to watch this time, standing with his hands on his hips and facing the outfield as Rowand was easily thrown out at the plate.

Trailing 3-1 in the eighth, the Sox put runners on the corners with no outs against Jesus Colome, but Harris, after hesitating, was thrown out trying to score on Colome's wild pitch to the backstop.

"When things aren't going well, your aggressiveness seems like it's stupid, or dumb baserunning," Johnson said. "But you can't stop being aggressive."

Tony Graffanino scored later that inning on Esteban Yan's wild pitch to the backstop, and Paul Konerko's two-out RBI single scored Lee, tying the game.

Keith Foulke (2-4) earned the win in relief of Jon Garland, with Damaso Marte collecting his fourth save. Garland gave up singles to the first two batters he faced, then served up a three-run homer to Aubrey Huff on a 1-2 pitch.

That was the last hit off Garland, who pitched seven innings and struck out a career-high eight before being removed after 104 pitches.

Pitching coach Don Cooper got in Garland's face after the first, telling him to follow the game plan and quit rushing his pitches out of the stretch.

"It wasn't a miracle cure or anything," Cooper said. "He had the same stuff in the first he had in the second through the seventh."

Cooper's tough-love approach to Garland may be working better than the constructive criticism of former pitching coach Nardi Contreras. "It's never coming from a negative place," Cooper said. "Once I get [ticked], we talk about it and it's done."

Though he retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced, Garland was informed before the eighth that Foulke needed some work. Garland bit his tongue, but he's obviously tired of not getting the benefit of the doubt in the eighth and ninth innings.

"I definitely felt I could've kept going," he said. "But that's what they felt and that's what they went with."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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