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Sweet, sour taste for Sox
For a team so prodigious when it comes to hitting home runs, the White Sox are trying to perfect the diminishing art of "small ball."
Manager Ozzie Guillen insists upon it.
The Sox deployed four sacrifice bunts and Joe Crede's game-winning sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to eke out a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. It marked the sixth victory in the Sox's final at-bat this season, all six coming at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Sox tried to rely on the long ball in the second game, getting a Juan Uribe two-run homer in the third inning and a Miguel Olivo three-run homer in the fourth, but their pitching failed them miserably.
Toronto salvaged a split by pummeling starter Dan Wright and five relievers for a season-high 18 hits in a 10-6 victory in front of 22,072 fans.
"We can't rely on hitting home runs, because [almost] every time we hit a home run, there is nobody on base," said Guillen, whose team leads the American League with 35 homers. "[Small ball] is the game I like to play. I am going to pick my spots and use the [right guy] to do the job.
"Right now, I don't think we are there yet as far as moving the guys over. We have got to get better. And we have to do better getting the guys in from third base with less than two outs. We're working on it."
Toronto snapped a six-game losing streak against the Sox as left fielder Frank Catalanotto set a franchise record with six hits (five singles and a double) and Eric Hinske hit his third home run of the season in the second inning.
Wright (0-4) lasted just three-plus innings, allowing six runs on nine hits and walking three. Starter Ted Lilly (2-2) earned the victory for the Blue Jays.
After the game, Guillen announced that Wright will be sent down and catcher Jamie Wright will be called up. Wright isn't needed to start for a couple weeks and can get some work at Triple-A Charlotte, Guillen said.
"Obviously it's a disappointment. It's baseball. You deal with it and go on," Wright said.
Fortune smiled more favorably on Sox pitcher Shingo Takatsu, who pitched a scoreless 10th inning of relief to earn his first major-league victory in Game 1. The all-time saves leader in Japan received the traditional beer shower from his White Sox teammates in the locker room between games.
Starters Roy Halladay (7 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs) of Toronto and the Sox's Mark Buehrle engaged in their expected pitchers' duel until the final innings.
"Halladay threw the ball well, so did Buehrle," Guillen said. "We haven't scored many runs when [Buehrle] is pitching. He kept us in the game. In the last inning, we played more White Sox baseball, I guess."
The Sox's 10th inning started with Magglio Ordonez singling off loser Justin Speier (1-3). Frank Thomas drew a walk before Ross Gload sacrificed the runners to second and third. Paul Konerko was walked intentionally to load the bases before Crede hit a fly ball to shallow right field. Ordonez barely slid under the tag of catcher Kevin Cash on the throw to home plate.
The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead with a two-out rally in the second inning. Cash singled and Orlando Hudson doubled him home.
The Sox tied the game 1-1 in the third inning when Willie Harris laid down a squeeze bunt to score Timo Perez from third. Perez had opened the inning with a double down the right-field line. Sandy Alomar sacrificed Perez to third before Harris came through with the squeeze play.
Crede gave the Sox a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning. Konerko drew a leadoff walk. Crede followed with a 423-foot drive into the left-field bleachers. His fourth homer of the season came on a 1-1 pitch.