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Despite win, 'playing lousy' bothers Guillen
The suspense is killing White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
And it's only April. The Sox won their fourth game of the season in their last at-bat Sunday when Juan Uribe coaxed a bases-loaded walk to cap a three-run ninth inning.
The 6-5 triumph over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at U.S. Cellular Field enabled the Sox to take two out of three and save face after having a runner picked off first in the ninth inning.
Asked if he enjoyed "winning ugly," Guillen responded:
"Playing lousy, that's different. I don't think we swung the bat very well. The team was kind of flat the first couple of innings. This is the kind of game that you win and you go home [feeling] like you lost the game. We made too many mistakes."
The Sox have won games in their last at-bat via sacrifice fly, single, home run and a walk.
"For the ballclub it is real emotional, but for me, I am going to die before the thing is over," Guillen said. "The reason we can come from behind is that the bullpen is holding the opposition."
Trailing 5-3 entering the ninth, the Sox got a leadoff single to right by Frank Thomas off reliever Danys Baez. Carlos Lee drew a walk to represent the potential tying run. With Paul Konerko in the batter's box, Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall fired to first to pick off Lee as first baseman Eduardo Perez deftly blocked the bag with his knee.
"He blocked the base and I couldn't put my hand down there," Lee said. "But I can't get out on that play there. I was the tying run, I can't let that happen. It's a dirty play, but it worked for them. It wasn't like I was way out there, but
Konerko then hit a sharp single to left, but Thomas had to hold up at third base. Ross Gload, who had been undergoing treatment for a mild rib strain on his left side minutes earlier, was summoned to pinch run for Konerko. And Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella brought in right-hander Travis Harper from the bullpen.
Joe Crede grounded out to short, enabling Thomas to score to make it 5-4. With Gload on second base, pinch-hitter Kelly Dransfeldt was called upon to face left-handed reliever Trever Miller.
"I am a genius, I guess," Guillen said. "That was the only guy I had left" other than catcher Sandy Alomar.
After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Dransfeldt managed a soft single to right. Right fielder Jose Cruz Jr. fired a throw home, and Gload barely slid under the tag of Hall at the plate with the tying run.
"I got Gload out of the training room because he's got something [bothering him] in the back," Guillen said. "It worked out pretty good for us. But I think Dransfeldt's at-bat was the best all day."
Piniella, who used four relievers in the ninth, was beside himself.
"An 0-2 count and you let a guy get a hit
that's not even baseball," Piniella said. "[Dransfeldt] was a young guy who probably would have swung at anything."
After Willie Harris drew a walk to load the bases, Lance Carter came on to walk Uribe on a 3-2 pitch to force in the winning run.
"That last pitch was a breaking ball," said the generally free-swinging Uribe. "I wanted to swing, but I knew it was a ball. This was the first time I have won a game with a walk."
The late rally took Sox starter Mark Buehrle off the hook. He was charged with five runs on 11 hits in 72/3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven. Relievers Cliff Politte and Jon Adkins kept the Devil Rays in check in the final innings.
"Our bullpen is a big reason we are playing the way we are right now," Guillen said. "They keep us in the game."
Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford went 4-for-5, and Aubrey Huff and Hall homered to help the Devil Rays build a 3-1 lead. Konerko and Uribe homered for the Sox.