Suzuki’s home run lifts A’s to 8-5 win over Chicago in 10
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Kurt Suzuki couldn’t remember the last time he hit a ball so far.
“Maybe with an aluminum bat in my hand but not wood,” said Suzuki after his game-winning, three-run home run in the 10th inning lifted the Oakland Athletics to an 8-5 win over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. “It felt great. I was hoping it would get to the wall.”
The homer—hit well over the 15-foot fence in left-center—was the second in as many days and fourth overall for Suzuki, but the first game-ending shot of his brief major league career. Suzuki was promoted to be the A’s every day catcher after Jason Kendall was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 16.
Designated hitter Mike Piazza had three hits including a triple and home run for the A’s, who completed a three-game sweep of Chicago while winning their fourth straight game.
Ruddy Lugo pitched a perfect 10th inning to earn the win for Oakland. Lugo (4-0) has allowed just one earned run in nine innings since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Aug. 4.
“We just keep finding some of these new guys stepping in and really picking it up,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Its nice to see.”
Suzuki’s game-winning hit came after Mark Ellis tripled with one out off reliever Matt Thornton (3-4), the fifth Chicago pitcher. White Sox center fielder Jerry Owens tried to make a sliding catch but the ball bounced off the grass and caromed off Owens’ leg and into right, allowing Ellis to take third.
“The last couple of weeks I’m more comfortable at the plate,” Suzuki said. “I’m more consistent with my swings. (Hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo) has been out there working his butt off with me.”
Piazza hit his first triple since Sept. 22, 2006 leading off the second, then later added a two-out, two-run home run off White Sox starter Javier Vazquez in the fifth.
Piazza, who singled in the fourth, just missed hitting for the cycle when his sinking liner to left-center was caught by a diving Owens to end the seventh. The 39-year-old Piazza also struck out looking against reliever Matt Thornton in the 10th.
A.J. Pierzynski had three hits and scored twice for the White Sox, who held a closed door team meeting before the game at the request of general manager Ken Williams. Chicago, which had dropped six of its previous eight games including a pair of one-run defeats in the first two games of the series with Oakland, responded with 12 hits, its best offensive performance since collecting 14 against Cleveland on Aug. 8.
It wasn’t enough to prevent the White Sox from dropping their fifth in a row overall and 27th in their last 33 visits to Oakland.
“We can’t win here,” said Chicago’s Jermaine Dye, the one-time Oakland outfielder who went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. “They beat us in different ways. For whatever reason, it’s tough to pick up wins here. When I was on the other side, we used to beat up on the White Sox pretty good.”
Vazquez allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings. The White Sox right-hander, who had won seven of his last eight decisions, struck out three and left with a 5-4 lead after Darin Erstad’s RBI-double off A’s reliever Andrew Brown in the top of the seventh.
The White Sox bullpen had not allowed an earned run in 29 consecutive innings but failed to protect the lead for Vazquez. Shannon Stewart hit his 10th home run of the season, a solo home run off Chicago reliever Boone Logan in the seventh, to tie the score at 5-5.
Stewart also made what Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen called the play of the game when he cut off Erstad’s double down the left-field line in the seventh. Erstad wound up taking third on a passed ball but was stranded there, and the White Sox never scored again.
“The difference in the game was Stewart,” Guillen said. “It would have been a different ballgame if he didn’t make that play.”
Oakland ace Dan Haren gave up nine hits and four runs—two of them unearned — over six innings, and was denied his 14th win of the year. The A’s right-hander, who struck out seven, didn’t get much help from his defense. Two of Chicago’s first three runs were unearned after a pair of fielding errors by Oakland first baseman Nick Swisher, putting the A’s in a 3-0 hole.
The A’s started their comeback with two runs in the fourth off Vazquez, then took a 4-3 lead on Piazza’s fourth home run of the season, a towering two-run blast over the wall in right-center.
Oakland third baseman Jack Hannahan drove in his first major league run with a single in the fourth.
Piazza’s triple was just the eighth of his career. He has had three-fourths of the cycle 19 times in his career but has never finished it off… A’s 1B Nick Swisher committed one error in Oakland’s first 121 games. His two errors Thursday led to unearned runs for the White Sox.