White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said last week he hoped his wife liked him with white hair. A few more days like Wednesday and he may not have any hair.
For the second time in the first eight games of the season, Guillen's bullpen blew a substantial ninth-inning lead. This time, however, the Sox rallied for a 10-9 victory over the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
Joe Crede's bases-loaded single scored pinch-runner Willie Harris for the win after Kansas City had taken the lead in the top of the ninth with four runs off Billy Koch. Three of the runs came on home runsCarlos Beltran's two-run shot, his second of the game, followed by a solo shot from Mike Sweeney.
Beltran's Opening Day home run off Damaso Marte capped a six-run ninth for the Royals. After that game, Guillen was criticized for pulling Koch.
After Wednesday, that decision doesn't look so bad.
"Obviously, [Koch] didn't throw the ball the way we wanted him to throw the ball or the way he wanted to throw the ball," Guillen said. "But I'm not giving up on him yet."
Though Koch's struggles last season cost him the closer's role, Guillen said it's too early to pull the plug on him.
"He said, 'Keep your head up, be ready for tomorrow,'" Koch said. "The manager has confidence in me. I think everybody in this room has confidence in me."
The Sox staked Jon Garland to a 6-0 lead, but Kansas City scored twice in the sixth inning and three times in the seventh on Benito Santiago's solo home run and Beltran's first two-run shot.
"We had this team down 6-0 and to let them come back into the game like that is pitiful," Garland said.
Koch, inheriting an 8-5 lead, walked leadoff man Aaron Guiel, then got Tony Graffanino to ground out.
But Angel Berroa singled home Guiel to make it 8-6, and Beltran hit a 1-2 pitch over the center-field wall to tie the game.
"I am ticked, but at the same time I have to tip my cap," Koch said. "I made some good pitches. The one to Beltran was down and away at the knees, he's on his front foot and the ball just keeps on going."
The balls have been flying out of U.S. Cellular Field in the first two games. The Royals have hit eight home runs and the Sox two.
Koch got ahead of Sweeney 0-2 before Sweeney launched one into the left-field seats for a 9-8 Royals lead. Koch was lifted for Jon Adkins after Joe Randa doubled.
Adkins picked up his first major-league win when the Royals' Curtis Leskanic gave the game right back to the Sox in the bottom of the ninth.
Magglio Ordonez led off with a walk and advanced when Mendy Lopez booted Frank Thomas' grounder, the third Royals error of the game. After Carlos Lee walked to load the bases, Paul Konerko's bloop single just inside the right-field line scored Ordonez to tie the game, and Crede's fly ball over the drawn-in outfield bounced over the fence in right, scoring pinch-runner Harris with the winning run.
"I appreciate that [Leskanic] pulled a Billy Koch and we were able to win," Koch said. "I thank you, Curt."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times