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Saturday, June 1, 2013
Sox waste comeback as Santiago struggles

By Eric Gilmore, Special to ESPNChicago.com

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura called it a "high-wire" act, and after defying the odds in the ninth inning, reliever Hector Santiago slipped and fell in the bottom of the 10th Saturday against the Oakland A's.

There are no nets in baseball, and Santiago took the loss after walking Josh Reddick with the bases loaded, forcing Chris Young home from third to give the A's a 4-3 walk-off win.

The White Sox had rallied from a 3-1 deficit to pull even with two runs in the seventh, but they wasted that comeback and suffered their fifth straight loss, matching their season high.

Hector Santiago
Hector Santiago walked Josh Reddick with the bases loaded to give the A's a 4-3 walk-off win and hand the White Sox their fifth straight loss.
"With us coming back and tying it up, it was big for us," Santiago said. "I felt like we haven't done that a lot this year. We finally battled back. We tried to keep us in the game to be able to scratch another one together and get us another run, be able to get (closer Addison) Reed in there and shut it down. It's a good sign for us that we could battle back right there late in the game and tie it up."

But in the bottom of the 10th, Santiago gave up a one-out double to Young. Then after intentionally walking Yoenis Cespedes, Santiago unintentionally walked Josh Donaldson on five pitches, loading the bases.

A's first baseman Nate Freiman lined out to second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who made a diving catch for the second out.

Santiago got ahead of Reddick with a first-pitch fastball for a called strike. That was the last strike he threw. He threw a curve in the dirt, then three sinkers out of the zone, giving the A's their fourth walk-off win of the season.

Santiago said he had trouble gripping the baseballs, a complaint that a number of visiting pitchers have made at the O.co Coliseum.

"I think I changed probably 15 balls," Santiago said. "I just couldn't get a grip on the ball. Those balls weren't as sticky or as grippy as you want them to be. It was almost like a cue ball trying to throw it up there."

Santiago was actually fortunate to survive the ninth inning. After Donaldson led off with an infield single off Nate Jones, Santiago entered the game. He got ahead of Brandon Moss 0-2 but wound up walking him. Then Reddick pushed a bunt past Santiago for a base hit, loading the bases.

With the infield in, Santiago got Derek Norris to hit a ground ball to shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez threw home to force out Donaldson, and catcher Hector Gimenez threw to first for the double play. Santiago then walked pinch hitter Coco Crisp intentionally, reloading the bases. He fell behind Eric Sogard 2-0 before fanning him on three straight pitches.

"That ninth inning was crazy," Santiago said. "That bunt, I felt it was right in front of me and all of a sudden it just took off and I just missed it. ... Bases loaded, nobody out. We're like, 'Here we go, we can still do this. We got good defense, we're playing great defense right now. Just make your pitches and try to get out of it.'

"And then Alexei made that play and Hector throws him out. It gets you pumped and you want the next guy so bad. I fell behind then I kind of just went, 'OK here we go, one pitch at a time,' and got out of that one. I got myself in a jam in the 10th and couldn't get out of it."