BALTIMORE—The White Sox just can't help themselves. Every game has to be a nail-biter.
What should have been a nice, comfortable victory Monday night after a stellar effort from Scott Schoeneweis turned into a cliffhangera 5-4 victory over Baltimore.
"As long as we keep winning, that's all I care about," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The Sox took a 5-1 lead into the eighth inning, and Schoeneweis had a two-hit gem working. But he also had thrown 106 pitches and told Guillen he was out of gas.
"At least he was honest with me," Guillen said.
It's the fourth time in five starts that Schoeneweis had exceeded 100 pitches, although Monday he was seldom in trouble after giving up a run in the first inning on a walk, two stolen bases and a run-scoring ground out.
"I think I've been feeling more comfortable every time out," Schoeneweis said. "The more starts I've had, the better I feel."
Cliff Politte began the eighth inning and got in trouble. Brian Roberts, who scored in the first, doubled. Back-to-back singles by Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada made it 5-2 with runners on first and second and Rafael Palmeiro up.
Guillen brought in Damaso Marte, who retired Palmeiro on one pitch with a pop out to second. Guillen then brought in Shingo Takatsu to face Javy Lopez.
Lopez drilled one to deep left-center field that Carlos Lee caught about a foot in front of the wall to end the inning.
After going meekly in the ninth inning with three strikeouts, the Sox brought Billy Koch in to preserve a three-run lead.
The lead should have been more. Much more.
The Sox had the bases loaded in both the first and second innings and didn't score, and stranded nine runners through the first five innings.
"I don't think we're swinging the bats well with runners in scoring position," Guillen said.
Koch began the ninth by walking Jay Gibbons. He then struck out Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie and things appeared to be under control.
But Koch walked B.J. Surhoff and Roberts to load the bases, and Mora's single drove in two to make it 5-4 with Tejada coming up and the tying run on third.
"He has a flair for the dramatic," Schoeneweis said of Koch.
Tejada hit a sharp grounder to short that Juan Uribe speared. Willie Harris, who was covering second, thought Uribe was going to throw to first and started to duck. Uribe instead flipped the ball to Harris to force Mora and end it.
Joe Crede's solo home run off Kurt Ainsworth tied the game 1-1 in the sixth, and the Sox took the lead in the seventh despite hitting the ball hard just twice. An error, infield single and bases-loaded walk produced three runs.The Sox added a needed insurance run in the eighth on an error, walk, double-play grounder and wild pitch.
Not exactly "The South Side Hit Men."
Still, Guillen saw a positive to leaving so many runners on base.
"That means we have an opportunity every inning," he said.