OAKLAND, Calif. — The White Sox faced a tall order in the last game of their nine-game road trip Sunday, facing Oakland Athletics ace right-hander Trevor Cahill, who took a 6-0 record and 1.72 ERA into the rubber game of the three-game series.
The Sox were 5-3 on the trip going in.
“This game is huge,” manager Ozzie Guillen said before the Sox defeated the A’s 4-3.
“This game can make it very special or a good one. This game can be the difference between a good trip and an OK one. I think right now we’re playing well.”
Left-hander Mark Buehrle (2-3, 4.02) took the mound for the White Sox. Buehrle was up to the challenge of opposing Cahill, allowing two runs over 6 1/3 innings as the Sox took a 4-3 lead. Matt Thornton got the hold in the eighth and Sergio Santos got his fifth save with a scoreless ninth.
“I said in Chicago this trip would be important for us, not just what people were talking, but as a team,” Guillen said. “If we were playing the way we were, it was going to be a long trip. We played good. We’re competing and our optimism is back. A lot of good things have happened.”
Something bad happened in the first inning Sunday. Juan Pierre, after leading off with a single, was picked off by Cahill with Adam Dunn at-bat. Pierre, who has only six stolen bases while being caught stealing eight times, was leaning and never even got back to the base.
Things got worse for Pierre. He hit into two double plays in one game for only the second time in his career, ending the third and fifth innings. In both innings, the Sox had two runners on. In the seventh, Pierre fouled off two squeeze bunt attempts with Omar Vizquel on third, then grounded as Vizquel had to hold at third.
Alexei Ramirez singled in Vizquel to make it 4-1 Sox.
The Sox took a 1-0 lead on a home run by Ramirez in the fourth inning. Ramirez hit one to the warning track in the first inning. After Coco Crisp homered for the A’s to tie it, the Sox went ahead 2-1 on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Quentin.
In the seventh, Alex Rios led off with a double to left. Vizqel, who singled in his first two at-bats, laid down a sacrifice bunt that Cahill fielded but made an errant throw on, allowing Rios to score and make it 3-1.
The Sox were not baffled by Cahill, who allowed eight hits in the first six innings.
Dunn played first base Sunday. Paul Konerko (10 home runs, 30 RBI) was the designated hitter. Konerko was doubled off first on a running catch into the right field corner by Conor Jackson, whose bobble on the catch gave Konerko the impression the ball was dropped. Konerko continuted on to third base and was out easily at first.