After manager Gene Lamont had been stung two days in a row by biting criticism from two of his least productive players, the White Sox revived their dormant offense.
Ellis Burks and Lance Johnson each drove in two runs in a five-run third inning and Tim Raines chipped in with four hits as the White Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1, here last night. Overall, the White Sox fashioned a 12-hit attack to back up a strong pitching performance by Wilson Alvarez.
The win enabled the AL Western Division champions to trim the Blue Jays lead in the best-of-seven ALCS to 2-1. The series resumes here tonight and continues tomorrow afternoon.
Lamont spent a lot of time the two previous days defending himself after being blasted by Bo Jackson and George Bell on successive days. Jackson, who struck out three times, walked and popped out last night, was critical of his inaction in the first two games.
A day later Bell, hardly a stranger to such tactics, ripped Lamont for not using him instead of Jackson in Game 3 last night. But if the turmoil surrounding them had any effect on the White Sox, it must have been beneficial.
They had failed to cash several opportunities in losing 7-3 and 3-1 decisions to the Blue Jays in the first two games and appeared to be two steps away from postseason elimination. But in Game 3 it was the Blue Jays who made critical mistakes and failed to take advantage of two prime scoring opportunities.
After leaving 23 runners on base while losing the first two games of the series, the White Sox came out swinging against Blue Jays starter Pat Hentgen. The rookie right-hander was rapped for nine hits and all of the White Sox runs before departing in the fourth inning.
Meanwhile, Alvarez shut down the Blue Jays on seven hits, only one after the fourth inning. The hard-throwing, 23-year-old left-hander struck out six and walked two in the first postseason appearance of his career.
The Blue Jays missed a chance to tighten their grip on the series in the second inning, when Alvarez worked out of his first jam. Back-to-back singles by John Olerud and Roberto Alomar (breaking an 0-for-17 streak) put runners on first and third with one out, but Tony Fernandez grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Hentgen was hit hard from the outset, but the game should've still been scoreless when he left in the fourth inning. Right fielder Joe Carter's leaping catch of a long, two-out drive by Robin Ventura saved a run in the first inning.
An inning later, Ellis Burks led off with a single, but was thrown out trying to steal while Bo Jackson was striking out. Hentgen then got the first two hitters in the third inning before the White Sox offense, with a little help, finally erupted.
Runners were on first and third, courtesy of singles by Raines and Cora, when Thomas got to swing in a meaningful situation for the first time in the series. He responded with a sharp two-hopper that handcuffed third baseman Ed Sprague.
Trying to make the play while backing up, Sprague saw the ball deflect off his glove. Thomas was leniently credited with a single and RBI on the play - and the troubles were only starting for Hentgen.
After Ventura walked to load the bases, Burks lined a double to left- center field, Jackson walked to re-load the bases and Lance Johnson dumped a single into left field. By the time Ron Karkovice struck out for the second time in the inning, the White Sox had a 5-0 lead.
The Blue Jays got a run back in their half of the third on a double by Rickey Henderson and a single by Devon White, but then contributed to the sixth White Sox run an inning later. Ozzie Guillen led off with a single, but should have been an easy out when he got trapped in a rundown while trying to steal second.
But the Blue Jays botched the play as Olerud missed the tag after taking a return throw from Fernandez. An ensuing single by Raines finally finished Hentgen. A sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk to Thomas and Ventura's sacrifice fly restored the five-run lead for the White Sox.
The Blue Jays had made a move to get back into the game in the fourth inning, when they loaded the bases with one out. But, for the second straight time, Fernandez was no match for Alomar, striking out before Sprague's fly to center ended the inning.
Alvarez then breezed through the next three innings, starting a double play to end the seventh, as the White Sox moved closer to their first win of the series.