Even though the Chicago White Sox are out of the American League West race, the thrill of winning in the final at-bat remains.
Robin Ventura's two-run double with one out in the ninth inning Friday night lifted the White Sox to a 6-5 victory over the Angels, who have lost five in a row.
Ventura's hit, off reliever Joe Grahe (5-6), sent home Frank Thomas and pinch-runner Shawn Jeter. Grahe gave up a one-out single to Thomas. George Bell followed with a single, advancing Thomas to second. Then came Ventura, and Chicago won for the ninth time in 11 games this season against the Angels.
"We may be out of it, but the thrill of coming back and fighting for a worthwhile cause (second place) is still important to us," Ventura said. "You want to win as many as you can. There are a lot of things riding in the remaining games, like batting marks, home runs, pitchers' records, so each game is important, especially to me."
Said Angel Manager Buck Rodgers: "It was an emotional roller coaster all right. But Grahe didn't throw enough strikes. We had our closer in there. They had one of their best hitters up. This was a case where a good hitter beat a good pitcher. Usually, it's the other way around, but not tonight."
Grahe, who has 21 saves, failed for only the second time this season.
Roberto Hernandez (6-3), the third Chicago pitcher, pitched one inning for the victory.
John Orton hit a three-run homer in the second inning and Hubie Brooks added a two-run homer that broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh.
The White Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth, but Ron Karkovice forced Ventura at the plate on a grounder to shortstop, Dale Sveum lined out and Joey Cora struck out.
The Angels led, 3-0, in the second inning on Orton's third major league homer.
But the White Sox tied the score in the sixth with a two-run double by Warren Newson and George Bell's RBI single off starter Julio Valera.
After Brooks' home run, Shawn Abner's pinch-hit RBI single off Scott Lewis cut the Angels' lead to 5-4 in the seventh.