White Sox ride Abreu's rocket to win in Oakland
Three-run HR in eighth salvages finale; Rienzo allows two HRs in 6 1/3
OAKLAND -- With one swift swing of the bat, Jose Abreu saved the White Sox from being swept out of O.co Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon.
With his team trailing by a run in the top of the eighth, Abreu launched his Major League-leading 15th homer into the seats in left field for a three-run shot. His blast helped revive a sleepy offense and propel the White Sox (20-22) to a 4-2 victory, which snapped a four-game losing skid and ended the A's (25-16) six-game winning streak.
"I got the opportunity to hit a good pitch," Abreu said through translator Lino Diaz. "All I was doing was trying to hit a ball in the air to bring the guy in from third base. But I was able to get a good swing and a good pitch to hit."
For a while, it looked as if Chicago's only run would come on the first pitch of the game, when Gordon Beckham hit a solo shot to left field against A's starter Tommy Milone. But Beckham would also play a big role in setting up Abreu's game-winner.
The second baseman (3-for-4) nearly hit a game-tying home run in the eighth against Fernando Abad, but the ball hooked foul down the left-field line. He would go on to single and move to third on Conor Gillaspie's subsequent single, before Abreu roped an 0-1 pitch from Luke Gregerson out of the park.
"Every time it's a big situation, he makes a pitcher pay if he makes a mistake," Beckham said of Abreu. "He's a stud, there's just no way around it. He's going to be really good for a long time."
Abreu's homer following a strong start from Andre Rienzo set the stage for plenty of ninth-inning drama.
Closer Matt Lindstrom gave A's fans something to cheer about when he allowed a walk and a single to lead off the ninth. But Lindstrom was able to induce a crucial 4-6-3 double play from Brandon Moss before getting Yoenis Cespedes to line out to a diving Leury Garcia in center field for the game's final out.
"I knew I had some pretty good stuff today," Lindstrom said. "It's just a matter of staying positive and thinking positive and maybe thinking you'll get a ground ball for a twin killing, and that's what happened. Made some pretty good pitches to Cespedes and we came out of here with a win."
For Chicago, it was a satisfying end for a game that took a turn for the worse following Beckham's leadoff home run. But Beckham said the solo shot wasn't the result of any tape study on Milone or advanced scouting.
"We've been just getting our butts whipped," Beckham said, "so I figured if I just get a pitch to hit -- let's not wait around, let's try to get this jump started. He threw it over the plate and I got it. I wasn't necessarily trying to do that, but it worked out."
The early lead on Beckham's homer didn't last long. That's because A's leadoff man John Jaso responded with a home run in the bottom of the first to quickly tie the score at 1. It marked the first game to feature two leadoff home runs since Aug. 13 of last year, when Seattle's Brad Miller and Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist accomplished the feat.
The A's jumped ahead against Rienzo in the fourth, when Josh Donaldson led off with another homer. The opposite-field blast gave Donaldson his team-leading ninth of the season and put Oakland ahead, 2-1.
Rienzo did his part on Wednesday as he tries to solidify his spot in the rotation after being called up in April. The 25-year-old righty showed a lot of emotion after striking out Moss to end the sixth. He went on to retire Cespedes to lead off the seventh before being pulled from the game. Rienzo allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out four.
"I just wanted to keep the team in the game," Rienzo said. "I'm just fighting to give them a chance to turn around the game in our favor."
The White Sox have gone 5-0 in games started by Rienzo (3-0, 4.20 ERA), who also earned some praise from manager Robin Ventura.
"He's done well," Ventura said. "He's improved, I know that. Today is no different. He was tough out there. He was throwing strikes, kind of bobbing and weaving to get through."
The comeback erased a solid start from Milone, who tossed six innings while allowing five hits, no walks and striking out four.
More importantly, the White Sox showed some grit in the late stages of a game once again, and they snapped their season-high losing skid.
"It's nice because last year we didn't have any of that mojo," Beckham said. "This year, we seem to never be out of a game, which is a good feeling to have."