CHICAGO – The lack of clutch hitting has plagued the White Sox in June. And even after failing to capitalize on key opportunities Sunday, they managed a rare walk-off victory in extra innings, leaping the Indians for the division lead.
Pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar drove in Alejandro De Aza for the game’s only run, giving the Sox (38-34) their first series win since June 3 against Seattle. Brian Bruney recorded his first win of the season. The Brewers’ Manny Parra (0-2) took the loss.
“I just think it was good to win a series,” Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. “Those were three real hard fought games. … It was a dogfight all the way. That series could have gone either way.”
The Sox also managed to pull off a deal for third baseman Kevin Youkilis during the game, hoping to stabilize an offense that has given starter Jose Quintana only three runs of support in his past four starts.
With his father in attendance, Quintana threw another gem, delivering eight shutout innings for a second straight game and lowering his ERA to 1.25. He also did not issue a walk – stretching baseball’s longest active streak to 97 consecutive batters.
“It actually makes me happy. I didn’t even know that statistic,” the 23-year-old rookie said of the streak. “But that shows the hard work that’s being put in.”
Manager Robin Ventura was more direct about Quintana’s performances, calling them “dazzling.”
“He’s done everything we have asked, and you let him go out there. He’s a lot more mature than you would expect,” he said.
Quintana was taken out in the eighth for closer Addison Reed after 100 pitches. The move almost hurt the Sox as the Brewers threatened to take the lead after back-to-back, one-out singles. But Milwaukee (33-39) ran itself out of the inning as Nyger Morgan was caught stealing at third base.
“It’s tough taking him out of games like that,” Ventura said. “I wouldn’t say it’s the same, but it’s pretty close to the [Chris] Sale thing where you’re protecting his future as well. You don’t want him to get into those uncharted waters he hasn’t been in before pitching a lot of innings.”
Quintana got some help from what is becoming a solidified defense.
In the fourth, Milwaukee’s Corey Hart launched what looked to be a two-run home run. But Alex Rios timed his leap perfectly to rob Hart, stranding Aramis Ramirez at second.
“That’s the second time I’ve robbed somebody,” Rios said. “That catch saved us two runs. I guess that’s all we needed.”
But the Sox squandered multiple opportunities to take the lead in the late innings. After De Aza doubled to advance Orlando Hudson to third, the Brewers’ Francisco Rodriguez relived starter Mike Fiers and got back-to-back strikeouts of Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn to end the eighth.
The Sox managed to load the bases in the ninth, but Hudson meekly popped out to shortstop, ending the two-out threat.