In baseball terminology, you "run into" a pitch from a nasty closer like the Boston Red Sox's Jonathan Papelbon. But it was 10 innings after Jermaine Dye had done that, and now he was faced with something even tougher. He had to run at top speed with his gas gauge sitting on empty in pursuit of a wind-blown drive by Boston's Alex Cora.
Dye kept his eye on the ball, covered ground as fast as he could from right field to right-center, and darned if he didn't rob Cora of a double, if not a triple. This would have been a great play in the fourth inning, let alone the 19th, and it seemed fitting that it led to a White Sox victory as memorable as any on the way to the 2005 World Series.
When Tadahito Iguchi lined a one-out, bases-loaded single into left field off Rudy Seanez in the bottom of the 19th, the White Sox had persevered to beat the Red Sox 6-5 in a 6-hour-19-minute marathon that had appeared lost in the ninth and 11th innings.
"Everybody's tired, but I somehow found a way," Dye said. "I didn't think I was going to catch the ball. I just gave it a good effort, stuck my glove up and it went in It was a big [win]. We needed to win this one to keep everybody sane."
Dye's inning-ending catch epitomized the effort that the White Sox put into not ending the first half of the season with three straight losses to Boston, which they swept in the first round of last year's playoffs.
"That was a great catch," Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I can't believe he had enough energy to run that far and catch it without cramping up This was big just because of how we got our tails beat around the last couple of days. We hadn't played well. Coming back against Papelbon, coming back against [Mike] Timlin, it's huge."
The marathon victory raised the White Sox's record to 57-31, yet they trail first-place Detroit by two games in the American League Central.
They'd be three games back if not for a game-tying homer by Dye with two outs in the ninth. This game also included a game-saving catch by Boston's Trot Nixon and crucial take-out slide by Pierzynski, both in the dramatic 11th inning.
"I thought it was an unbelievable game while we were still playing it," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It would be more fun to look back at and talk about if we had won it."
Had Pierzynski not upended shortstop Alex Gonzalez, Boston probably would have won 5-4, with the game ending on an Alex Cintron double-play grounder. Pierzynski, like Dye before him, wasn't quite ready to leave for Pittsburgh and Tuesday's All-Star Game.
Ross Gload, who might have scored earlier if not for some dubious baserunning, scored the tying run on the Cintron fielder's choice. That capped a two-run comeback against Timlin after Boston scored twice in the top of the 11th off Bobby Jenks, working in his third inning.
Jose Contreras did not extend his winning streak to 18 games but remained unbeaten since last August. He seemed headed to a 3-2 loss at the hands of Curt Schilling before Dye connected on a split-finger fastball from Papelbon, an All-Star closer.
"A guy like that, a top closer, you just want to hang in there and be aggressive, hope he makes a mistake," Dye said. "I got a pitcha splitand I was able to get good wood on it."
Brandon McCarthy, who said he had warmed up six times Saturday and Sunday without getting in, turned in 41/3 scoreless innings after entering in the 14th. McCarthy, Cliff Politte, Matt Thornton and emergency reliever Javier Vazquez combined to hold Boston to three hits in 81/3 scoreless innings.
Boston's David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were a combined 2-for-15.
"Once you get to the 12th inning, bats are about a half-second slow," McCarthy said. "I don't think guys were seeing the ball that well either. But anytime you get those guys to go 2-for-15 you've had a great game."
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