CHICAGO – When the Baltimore Orioles insisted upon giving away the game, the Chicago White Sox happily accepted the generosity.
After first baseman Ty Wigginton dropped a routine throw to let Alexei Ramirez reach base in Saturday’s fifth inning, Orioles starter Brad Bergesen threw a non-sinking sinker that Jermaine Dye hit for the go-ahead home run.
In the end, the White Sox won 4-3 and moved 11/2 games behind Detroit, the closest they’ve been to the AL Central lead since May 3.
“Early in the year, we’d make mistakes and other teams would counter,” Dye said. “It’s good to be on the other end of it.”
Since falling to 15-22 and 51/2 games back on May 18, the White Sox are 32-21.
“Not too many people thought ... we’d be in this situation,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We started poorly, we had a lot of guys hurt, guys were not performing. But we’re feeling pretty good now. That has a lot to do with chemistry, with us believing in ourselves and with us being there before.”
One of the mainstays of Chicago’s 2005 championship team, Mark Buehrle, is pitching as well as ever.
He allowed eight hits and one run over 7 innings, and is 14-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 20 home starts dating to the 2008 All-Star break.
Buehrle (10-3), who has reached double-digit victories for the ninth straight year, keeps winning despite relying heavily on fastballs that rarely travel 90 mph.
“Every time I take Buehrle out, I always ask (catcher A.J. Pierzynski): ‘How does he do this?’” Guillen said. “But he knows how: throwing strikes, changing speeds and hitting locations. That’s why he makes a lot of money.”
The Orioles, an AL-worst 14-29 on the road, loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but Aubrey Huff and Wigginton were retired by Matt Thornton.
Bobby Jenks gave up RBI singles to Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts in the ninth before earning his 21st save by getting Markakis to ground out.
The fifth inning would have been even worse for the Orioles had left fielder Reimold and right fielder Nick Markakis not thrown out runners at home plate.
“I’ve never seen guys thrown out at the plate twice in less than 30 seconds,” Guillen said, laughing. “That’s a world record.”