CHICAGO – There were times when the White Sox thought they were at their low point, only to sink to another level. Maybe now, they’re climbing back.
Alex Rios and Tyler Flowers homered, Hector Santiago pitched into the seventh inning and the Sox beat the Oakland Athletics, 4-2, on Sunday to salvage a split of their four-game series.
Conor Gillaspie made several diving stops at third base and drove in a run, and the Sox looked like a team that just might be waking up.
They’ve won two in a row behind strong starts from Santiago (2-4) and John Danks after dropping 10 of 11 to fall into last place in the AL Central. Their bats are showing some life as well, and maybe they’re emerging from this as a tighter group.
“You think you hit rock bottom and there’s more to go in some cases,” Paul Konerko said. “Sometimes, that can kind of bring the team together. ... There have been some moments where it’s been so bad that I think [for] guys, it just reinforces how to do it right and to pick up your teammates because sometimes that’s all you’ve got. Really, this year that’s all we’ve had is to treat teammates well and try to be a positive influence. It’s not easy when everything’s going bad. You just hope that at some point it goes as good as it’s gone bad.”
Konerko also realizes, “We’re not out of the woods yet.” But this was a good step for the Sox.
Flowers tied it 1-all in the third after Coco Crisp homered in the top half. The Sox grabbed a 3-1 lead in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Gillaspie and an RBI double by Gordon Beckham. Rios chased A.J. Griffin (5-5) with a solo homer in the eighth to make it 4-2.
Santiago was simply superb after Danks and Addison Reed combined on a four-hitter Saturday, and the Athletics lost for just the fifth time in 23 games.
“This team is not losing any confidence after losing two right here,” Oakland’s Josh Donaldson said. “Chicago is a real good team and they’ve got real good pitching and they’ve got some bats in that lineup that can hurt you.”
In and out of the rotation after opening the season in the bullpen, Santiago got the call with Jake Peavy sidelined by a broken rib and delivered in a big way. The left-hander allowed two runs – one earned – and four hits while striking out six and walking three.
“When stuff like this happens, you take advantage of it and just run with it,” Santiago said. “We’re all hoping for Peavy to come back as soon as possible, but for now, I’ll enjoy the role.”
Santiago left to loud cheers with a two-run lead after walking Josh Reddick with one out in the seventh. Matt Lindstrom came on and gave up a bloop single to pinch-hitter John Jaso before Adam Rosales grounded into a force. Matt Thornton then threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt, allowing Reddick to score and pull Oakland within one, before Crisp popped out.
Jesse Crain retired the side in the eighth, giving him 24 straight scoreless innings and 25 appearances in a row without allowing a run. Reed worked the ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances and his second in two days.
Griffin allowed seven hits and struck out five while walking one but got little support. The Athletics managed only five hits at the plate, although they might have had more if not for Gillaspie.
He dove to his right to rob Donaldson in the third and lunged to his left to take one away from Jed Lowrie in the fifth. Gillaspie did it again in the eighth, diving to his left to rob Yoenis Cespedes.
“This is one series,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been pretty good. You always want to be your best and play your best and the expectations of scoring a bunch of runs every day, the reality is sometimes that’s not going to happen.”
Notes: OF Chris Young was back in Oakland’s lineup as the designated hitter after missing Saturday’s game because of an illness. He went 0 for 2. ... The Athletics are finally off on Monday after playing 17 straight days. ... Sox manager Robin Ventura had some praise for the Blackhawks, who beat the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night to advance to the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals for the first time since winning it all in 2010. “You look at how you pick yourself up,” he said. “Last night, late goal, a lot of different things can happen at that point. But they stayed with it. I think Coach Q (Joel Quenneville) has done a great job. I’m happy for him.” ... Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 3.73 ERA) starts Monday for the White Sox against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (5-7, 4.66).