CHICAGO — It wasn’t pretty and took a combined 504 total pitches, but the Boston Red Sox gladly took a 14-inning victory Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox.
Aided by 15 walks, a blown save, two hit batters and three sacrifice flies, Boston (6-9) snapped a three-game losing streak by outlasting the Chicago 6-4 at U.S. Cellular Field.
A two-run double to right field by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the top of the 14th off White Sox utility infielder Leury Garcia provided the winning runs in a marathon game that lasted 5 hours, 17 minutes in 40-degree weather.
“Stay back,” Bradley said, when asked what his approach was to facing Garcia. “He was actually kind of funky, though. He was kind of throwing rise balls, so it was just one of those things where I wanted to make him throw strikes. He got behind 2-0 and ended up working his way back. Stay back, see it late and put a good swing on it.”
Garcia (0-1) was only pitching because Chicago manager Robin Ventura burned through his entire bullpen, including a three-inning, 59-pitch outing by right-hander Daniel Webb that concluded in the 13th.
“We just, for one reason or another, we didn’t seem to throw it over (the plate),” Ventura said. “So, you know, a game that if you are going to give them that many opportunities, you are a little surprised you are in it that late into the game.”
Left-hander Chris Capuano (1-0) got the win by throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings and right-hander Burke Badenhop got a one-out save. Three innings earlier, Boston right-hander Edward Mujica blew a save opportunity when Chicago catcher Tyler Flowers rolled a two-out RBI single to center field that scored Jordan Danks.
The White Sox’s bullpen was equally ineffective. Chicago (8-7) coughed up a 3-2 lead in the ninth after shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s two-run homer in the sixth broke a 1-1 pitcher’s duel. Five White Sox relievers combined to allow the Red Sox solo runs in the eighth and ninth on six walks, one hit and two sacrifice flies to force extra innings.
Chicago right-hander Matt Lindstrom was assessed a blown save, his third in four opportunities this season, but entered in a tough spot in the ninth. The White Sox still led 3-2, but there were no outs and two runners on base after right-hander Maikel Cleto gave up back-to-back walks to start the inning.
An infield hit with one out by Jonny Gomes loaded the bases and left fielder Grady Sizemore tied it 3-3 by plating second baseman Dustin Pedroia with a sacrifice fly.
“They just told me to be ready to follow Cleto so I did as told,” Lindstrom said. “I could kind of see how they wouldn’t be confident in me in that situation, but I was feeling good before (batting practice) throwing. I felt like I was ready and did my normal routine to get ready to go out there in the ninth. It was a tough loss. Our guys battled their butts off today. Even watching Leury pitch, he did a pretty good job.”
Pedroia, who returned from a brief injury stint to relieve inflammation in his left wrist, went 2-for-6 and played the role of catalyst perfectly for the Red Sox (6-9). He doubled and scored to start the game and scored twice more after drawing leadoff walks in the ninth and 11th.
“It was cold,” Pedroia said. “It was good to come out on top. It was one of those crazy games. (We were) just trying to find a way to score. Everyone’s by the heater trying to stay warm and get some pine tar on your bat. It’s just smash-mouth baseball. That’s about it.”
Boston nearly tied it in the eighth, when four Chicago relievers each walked a batter. David Ortiz eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 before Cleto finally wiggled off the hook that inning by getting Bradley to pop out with the bases loaded.
It was just another example of Boston struggling to plate runners in scoring position. The Red Sox came into the game hitting .194 with runners in scoring position, which was tied for 13th in the American League.
The trend continued when they stranded 10, left the bases loaded twice and squandered golden opportunities in the eighth, ninth and 11th against Chicago’s scuffling bullpen.
Can a win in this fashion spark a turnaround?
“I sure hope so,” Bradley said. “It has been a rough couple days. I’ve been in so many different situations and haven’t been able to execute, so I’m glad I could finally help the team out with that last at-bat.”
Ramirez’s fourth home run of the season, his second in the past three games, extended his hitting streak to 15 games and tied him with legendary White Sox slugger Frank Thomas for the longest streak to start a season in franchise history.
Thomas accomplished the feat to start the 1996 season.
“First of all, I wasn’t even aware of that,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “I’m thankful it happened but I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was more concentrating on the game than anything else.”
Boston starter Clay Buchholz and Chicago starter John Danks each pitched well and took no-decisions.