Closer Dustin Hermanson skipped off the mound and pumped his fist vigorously Tuesday night as he and the White Sox pulled off their most unbelievable victory of their amazing season.
Hermanson completed his biggest escape act after allowing a leadoff triple to Ivan Rodriguez in the ninth inning, then retiring the next three batters to secure a 2-1 victory over the Tigers.
"Everything is clicking for us," ace left-hander Mark Buehrle said after wobbling through 6 2/3 innings to earn his 10th victory. "The man upstairs is a Sox fan because there are some games we shouldn't be winning that we're winning."
Fortune never looked so fondly upon the Sox as it did throughout this game, especially in the ninth after Rodriguez tagged a Hermanson pitch off the center-field wall.
"I was looking at my lineup to see who was going to hit in the next (10th) inning," manager Ozzie Guillen admitted.
A tie game looked so probable Guillen played shortstop Juan Uribe and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi at normal depth instead of moving them in to prevent Rodriguez from scoring on a ground ball.
"I'm not going to put the go-ahead run on base, and then have them pinch-run for him (Dmitri Young)," a drained Guillen said while slouched in his chair.
Young fouled out to first baseman Paul Konerko, and then Guillen moved his middle infielders in.
Hermanson, pitching for the first time since June 20, induced Craig Monroe to ground out sharply to third and Chris Shelton to ground out to second to set off a giddy celebration.
"From the season we've had so far, there's a lot of confidence in every game and every situation until the end," Hermanson said after converting his 18th save in 19 chances. "That's what it takes to pull out these close-game victories.
"You can see the confidence. Every time on the field, it feels like it's going to be a win every day. I can feel it, and it carries out there every game."
The Sox (51-24) seized their 23rd comeback victory and improved to 21-8 in one-run decisions. They did it despite a scoreless streak of 20 innings that finally ended in the fifth.
They managed to improve their record against the American League Central to 24-5 and are 5-1 against the Tigers, including a 3-0 mark at Comerica Park.
Buehrle didn't walk a batter but was lifted after picking off Nook Logan for the second out of the seventh and a 1-1 count on Brandon Inge.
Buehrle, who threw 112 pitches, said he was unaware he was in the middle of a count with Inge when he was pulled until rookie Brandon McCarthy told him in the dugout.
"I got lucky," he said.
Buehrle (10-1), however, won his ninth straight decision and strengthened his AL All-Star credentials by posting an 0.96 ERA in four starts in June.
"I don't think I hurt my chances any, but a lot of things can happen," Buehrle said. "Until I get that phone call or packet, I'm not assuming anything."
His streak of not allowing an earned run ended at 27 innings in the second, but he finally got a lead when Jermaine Dye launched a home run in the sixth that struck the back of the bullpen wall in left center.
"When we hit a hitting funk, it's like a disease," Guillen said. "We don't hit for three, four or five days, and then all of a sudden get hot. It's hard to keep it together."
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