ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tim Anderson hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning to rescue the White Sox after their bullpen blew a two-run lead against the Rays Friday night.
“In those moments, it’s game on,” Anderson said. “The moment is never too big.”
Anderson had one more. He singled in the go-ahead run and scored an insurance run in the 11th, powering the Sox to a frantic 7-5 victory at Tropicana Field in a matchup of teams boasting the best records in the American League.
Homering for the first time since his Field of Dreams walk-off against the Yankees last Thursday, Anderson lifted his 14th of the season over the center field wall against against JT Chargois leading off the ninth.
After Garrett Crochet and Liam Hendriks (8-3) blanked the Rays in the ninth and 10th innings, Anderson drove in free runner Andrew Vaughn from second with his third hit and scored his fourth run on Jose Abreu’s high infield chopper. Ryan Tepera pitched a scoreless 11th for the save.
“There’s no better shortstop in the whole league who is better than he is, when you talk about his complete game,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Watch this game and it’s all you’ll need to know about his greatness.”
The Sox (72-51) snapped the Rays’ (75-48) four-game winning streak.
Lucas Giolito pitched seven innings of two-run ball, allowing three hits and no walks, and he struck out eight in one of his best starts of the season. He had 24 swings and misses.
“Tim is so clutch,” Giolito said. “The heart and soul of our team. We can count on him in any situation. The momentum swung to the other side and he made something happen.”
The momentum swung when Giolito left with a 4-2 lead. Craig Kimbrel, pitching for the first time in four days after leaving the team following the death of his grandfather, opened the eighth and threw seven balls in a row. After Kimbrel recorded two outs, La Russa lifted him for left-hander Aaron Bummer, who was even less effective in a three-run rally that gave the Rays a 5-4 lead.
“The way it turned out was atrocious,” La Russa said, blaming himself for putting Kimbrel in a difficult spot.
“I kept thinking, ‘This is not fair.’ It was a totally wrong message to a potential Hall of Fame closer taking him out, to think we don’t have confidence,” La Russa said. “That’s not what I think of him.”
Bummer walked pinch hitter Randy Arozarena, gave up an RBI infield single to Wander Franco and, after walking Nelson Cruz intentionally with runners on first and second, allowed Austin Meadows’ two-run single.
But Anderson wasn’t finished.
“We battle to the end, it tells you what type of guys we have on this team,” said Anderson, who also used his speed to net two runs, scoring from first on Luis Robert’s RBI double and outrunning third baseman Yandy Diaz’s throw home on an Abreu ground ball and scoring on a head first slide. He had reached first on an infield single to third.
This and that
The Sox lead the majors with 74 homers since June 30. The Rays are next with 72.
*Leury Garcia, who landed on the seven-day concussion list Sunday (retroactive to August 13) is “making progress but he’s not there yet,” La Russa said.
“Every day they test him, making him workout and they see how he responds.”