Indians 6, White Sox 5, 11 innings
CLEVELAND (AP)—Ryan Garko’s hair was sticky and his face was still covered with remnants of another whipped cream pie.
Once again, he and his teammates treated themselves to some late-night dessert.
Garko hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning and singled home the winning run in the 11th to give the Cleveland Indians a 6-5 victory Tuesday night over the Chicago White Sox, whose bullpen failed them again.
The Indians’ 28th come-from-behind win—and 15th in their final at-bat— kept them one game behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
“I was on a team like this in college,” said Garko, who played at Stanford. “We always feel like we’ve got a chance to win.”
Jason Michaels opened the 11th with a base hit off rookie Dewon Day (0-1) that he turned into a double by beating Jermaine Dye’s throw from right field. Garko followed with a broken-bat bloop just over shortstop Juan Uribe’s outstretched glove.
Michaels, who took a chance by breaking at the sound of the bat, was waved around and scored easily as the Indians poured out of the dugout and pummeled Garko on the infield dirt for the second time in five days for hitting a walk-off winner.
During a TV interview afterward, Garko, who homered off Bobby Jenks in the ninth, was smashed in the face with a pie, a new tradition for these Indians, who have made late-inning comebacks their calling card this season.
“I couldn’t believe it when Jason took off,” Garko said. “He had the new white cleats on so he was a little faster tonight.”
Rafael Betancourt (2-0) pitched a perfect 11th for the Indians, who had 27 comeback wins last season.
“That’s what a winning team does,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “They don’t let anything bother them. That’s why this team is where it is. That’s a very good team and they always think they can win.”
Jenks, trying to nail down his 26th save and protect a 5-3 lead, instead suffered his fifth blown save and added a new chapter to Chicago’s endless summer of bullpen blunders. White Sox relievers are 3-14 with a 7.50 ERA and 10 blown saves since May 8.
“We got where we wanted to,” Guillen said. “We got the game to Bobby but he couldn’t hold the lead.”
Trot Nixon opened the ninth with a single and Garko followed with a long shot into the seats in left, his second pinch-hit homer this season and the latest late-inning heroics for the Indians.
“It’s just crazy for him to be sitting all night, then go up there against a nasty closer like Jenks and hit one out,” Michaels said. “Then he came through again. Not one, but two big hits.”
Chicago starter Jon Garland had kept Chicago’s bullpen door closed as long as he could by pitching six solid innings, and the White Sox were on the verge of another tight win when the Indians rallied.
Jim Thome had three hits and two RBIs for Chicago.
Garland, who was ill with a stomach ailment on Monday, threw a season-high 122 pitches and came within a few outs of improving to 4-0 in his last four road starts.
Dye homered off Indians starter Paul Byrd in the sixth and threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the eighth.
Down 4-3, Cleveland got the tying run to third in the eighth with one out. Franklin Gutierrez then hit a fly to medium right that Dye caught on the move before firing a perfect one-hop throw to get pinch-runner Ben Francisco.
On Monday, Chicago relievers nearly blew a nine-run lead in an 11-10 victory, prompting general manager Kenny Williams to unexpectedly join his struggling team on its 11-game road trip.
Byrd, who has just one win in his last eight starts, walked two—the most he has allowed in 16 starts since April 14.
Dye, the subject of several trade rumors, gave the White Sox a 4-2 lead with his 16th homer, a towering shot to left.
With little trust in his bullpen, Guillen had no choice but to stick with Garland, who threw 97 pitches through five innings. The Indians pulled within 4-3 on Nixon’s RBI single but Garland got Kelly Shoppach to pop out on his final pitch with two runners on to end the threat.
The Indians have had a season-long obsession with “RBI Baseball,” the old-school Nintendo video game popular in the 1980s. Since Sunday, players and clubhouse staffers have been competing in a 16-team tournament, complete with seedings. “Guys are really into it,” said pitcher Jake Westbrook, tourney director and resident trash talker, who isn’t playing and has spent the past few days hearing teammates grumble about their seeds. “I’m brutal,” he said. “The worst.” … After batting just .237 in June, the White Sox are hitting .288 in July. … The start was delayed 25 minutes by rain.