Chicago (AP) — Gavin Sheets hit a tying, two-run homer in the seventh inning and the winning run on a wooded pitch in the ninth to lift the Chicago White Sox 3-2 on Saturday night over the Oakland Athletics.
The Sheets lined up a leadoff double against Zach Jackson (2-3) in the ninth and moved to third on Josh Harrison’s sacrificial bunt, before Jackson tossed a slider with Tim Anderson at the plate.
Oakland starter Paul Blackburn came out with two big extra-base hits from a reliever from the Sheets A after going out twice against second- and third-place runners in fifth.
“I stayed in it mentally,” Sheets said. “Obviously very disappointed that I have to work in that position.
“Excited to get two more chances and be in it mentally and be ready for the big two.”
Liam Hendrix (2-3) worked around Elvis Andrus’ double at the top of the ninth for the win.
The Sheets took home seventh-off reliever Austin Pruitt to help the White Sox (50-50) prevent a two-game mini-skid.
“It shows you your ability as a hitter when you can take a ball and hit it 500 feet and pitch breaking in the opposite field,” said manager Tony La Russa.
Chicago, the preferred preseason to win the AL Central, is three games behind first-placed Minnesota and one game behind second-place Cleveland.
“We still have a lot of games left,” Sheets said. “And that’s the fun part of the season. Got a taste of the after season last year and want to go back.”
Seth Brown hit a long single shot for his third homer in two days and Blackburn returned to All-Star form with five shutout innings, but Oakland’s season-high four-game winning streak ended.
Sean Murphy also went deep for an A. The catcher demanded a breaking pitch which was turned away to end the game.
“Trying to get in front of it, but I thought it was the right pitch,” Murphy said. “I’m not going to throw it. You just have to have faith and call the game as it’s meant to be called.”
Anderson batted in the leadoff and singled out twice as the All-Star shortstop appealed for a three-game suspension from Major League Baseball for making contact with plate umpire Nick Maherley during an argument on Friday.
The discipline was announced just before Saturday’s first pitch. Anderson, who will remain active until his appeal is heard, declined to comment on the penalty after the game.
Chicago starter Johnny Couto conceded two runs for six hits in seven innings. Veterans rights only lasted one.
Blackburn went out to lead 2–0 after giving away five hits, no running and hitting four. Blackburn, a first-time All-Star this season, had three straight losses during the slide with an ERA of 13.19.
The right-handed batsman allowed 21 runs and 20 hits in his last 14 1/3 innings and was bundled out for 10 by Texas last Sunday.
Blackburn was 6-3 with a 2.90 ERA before their sudden downturn. He started the season 5–0 and had an ERA of 1.70 on 25 May.
“I think everything went pretty well today,” Blackburn said. “From my last start to this start, I feel like I’m back to getting the groundball I was getting. That’s a good sign for me. My sinker is sinking and not moving.”
Murphy hit his 12th homer to the left off Cueto and gave Oakland a 1-0 lead. Brown started a 452-foot drive to the right in his 15th, third.
Brown hit two solo homers in his first game on Friday since the birth of his first child, son Cannon.
Second AK reliever Pruitt hits Andrew Vaughan off the pitch to start seventh. The sheets ran with Homer on his right side.
Minnie Minoso, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last Sunday, was honored by the White Sox at a pregame ceremony.
A Cuban native who grew up on a sugar plantation, Minoso was a nine-time All-Star and finished his career with 2,110 hits and a .299 batting average. He passed away in 2015.
He starred with the New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues before becoming the first black Latino player in the major leagues in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke up.
ATHLETICS: Manager Mark Cootse said INF Jade Lowry (left shoulder) was set to play seven to nine innings at the ground on Saturday in his rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas. Lowry will be DH in Las Vegas on Sunday, starting June 27.
White Sox: OF Louis Robert was scratched from a rehab game with Triple-A Charlotte due to cold symptoms, but La Russa said Robert would fly back to Chicago. The White Sox originally placed Robert on IL retrospectively on July 19 with lightheadedness and blurred vision. … La Russa said RHP Reynaldo López (lower back strain) is making progress, but has no timetable for his return.
Oakland RHP Adam Oller (1-3, 8.07 ERA) faces Chicago RHP Dylan Siege (10-4, 2.03) on Sunday. The Siege did not allow a single run in their last 20 2/3 innings, while winning three straight starts.