CHICAGO (AP)—A.J. Pierzynski found himself in the middle of another strange play, and once again the umpire involved was Doug Eddings.
This time, the chaos followed a rundown between second and third, not a third strike.
“It’s just a funny coincidence, I guess,” said Pierzynski, whose bizarre trip around the bases in the 10th inning Sunday capped a 6-5 victory for the Chicago White Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays. “Him and I will be linked forever because of that one play, and now there’s two plays.”
Eddings and Pierzynski were at the center of a disputed call in the 2005 AL championship series between Chicago and the Los Angeles Angels. The latest ruckus came before Alexei Ramirez singled home the winning run Sunday, allowing the White Sox to avoid a three-game sweep.
Chicago also moved back into first place in the AL Central, a half-game ahead of Minnesota.
Ken Griffey Jr. started the rally with a one-out double.
Pierzynski led off the 10th with a single against Jason Hammel (4-4), then tagged up and went to second when center fielder B.J. Upton casually flipped the ball in after catching Quentin’s fly. Jermaine Dye sent a grounder toward shortstop, Pierzynski got caught in a rundown and the strange play unfolded.
Pierzynski, who always seems to be at the center of controversy, appeared to get tagged out after falling—but Eddings signaled safe instead.
The second base ump called interference on Rays third baseman Willy Aybar, ruling that he bumped the runner after a throw toward second. Replays showed that Pierzynski initiated the contact, hitting Aybar with his left elbow before falling to the ground.
“As a runner, you’re allowed to do that,” third-base umpire Ted Barrett said. “What Doug ruled at second base was, even though A.J. did kind of stick his arm out to make contact, Aybar was still in his way. So A.J., if he would have turned, he wouldn’t have been able to continue on to third. So after making the throw, Aybar is no longer in the act of fielding and he can’t obstruct the runner, which is what Doug ruled happened. And in a rundown, even though A.J. was going back to second, the rule of obstruction during a rundown is he gets his next advanced base and that’s why he was rewarded third base.
“If Aybar’s got the ball, there’s no obstruction,” Barrett said. “You protect the fielder when he’s in the act of fielding. Once that ball’s released and out of his hand, he has to vacate.”
Tampa Bay infielders and manager Joe Maddon argued vehemently to no avail, and Pierzynski was awarded third. Hammel intentionally walked Thome before Ramirez singled to right.
That made a winner of Bobby Jenks (3-0), who pitched two scoreless innings.
Aybar said through a translator that Eddings told him he initiated the contact and that “he wasn’t going to talk to him anymore, that he was going to talk to Joe.”
And Maddon said: “(Eddings) thought he bumped him, that Willy interfered or obstructed with the runner and he gave him the extra base. I disagree.”
Eddings was behind the plate in the 2005 ALCS when he called strike three on Pierzynski—but not the third out—in the ninth inning of Game 2. In a weird scene, Eddings ruled the two-out pitch had bounced in the dirt, and Pierzynski hustled safely to first as the Angels ran off the field. Moments later, the White Sox rallied to win.
In this one, the AL East-leading Rays seemed to be on their way to their 12th win in 15 games before Konerko’s single to left on a 2-2 pitch from Wheeler, subbing for injured closer Troy Percival.
The blown save was Wheeler’s second in 10 chances and denied Andy Sonnanstine his 14th win, which would have tied the club record set by Rolando Arrojo in 1998.
Thome and Quentin hit two-run homers in the fourth to give the White Sox a 4-3 lead. Thome’s shot tied Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx for 15th on the career list. Quentin leads the majors with 36 this season.
Chicago’s bullpen blew late leads in the first two games of the series. This time, poor defense was the problem.
Baldelli, who missed the first 116 games of the season with a muscular disorder, hit a two-run shot in the first after first baseman Nick Swisher booted Pena’s grounder for an error, the first of several gaffes.
The Rays tied it 4-all in the sixth when shortstop Orlando Cabrera booted Aybar’s grounder for an error, allowing Pena to score.
Chicago’s Mark Buehrle allowed five runs—two earned—in 6 2-3 innings.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said D.J. Carrasco or Matt Thornton will pitch Monday at Baltimore when a game that was suspended after 11 innings April 28 resumes. Carrasco pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings Sunday. Clayton Richard is scheduled to start the regularly scheduled game afterward. … Percival, on the 15-day disabled list with cartilage damage in his right knee, is scheduled to play catch Monday.