Garko’s clutch hits rally Indians to win
His ninth-inning homer sent the game to extra innings.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Ryan Garko hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run in the ninth and singled home the winning run in the 11th to give the Cleveland Indians a 6-5 win Tuesday night over the Chicago White Sox, whose bullpen failed them again.
The Indians’ 28th come-from-behind win and 15th in their final at-bat kept them one game behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
Jason Michaels opened the 11th with a base hit off rookie Dewon Day (0-1) that he turned into a double by beating Jermaine Dye’s throw from right.
Garko followed with a broken-bat bloop just over shortstop Juan Uribe’s outstretched glove.
Michaels was waved around and scored easily as the Indians poured out of the dugout and pummeled Garko in the infield dirt for the second time in five days for hitting a walk-off winner.
Rafael Betancourt (2-0) pitched a perfect 11th for the win.
Garko’s two-run homer in the ninth off All-Star closer Bobby Jenks tied it 5-5 for the Indians, who have made comebacks their calling card this season.
Jenks, trying to nail down his 26th save and protect a 5-3 lead, instead suffered his fifth blown save and added a new chapter to Chicago’s endless summer of bullpen blunders.
Trot Nixon opened the ninth with a single and Garko followed with a long homer into the seats in left, his second pinch-hit homer this season and the latest late-inning heroics for the Indians.
Chicago starter Jon Garland had kept Chicago’s bullpen door closed as long as he could by pitching six solid innings, and the White Sox were on the verge of another tight win when the Indians rallied.
Jim Thome had three hits and two RBIs for Chicago.
Garland threw a season-high 122 pitches and came within a few outs of improving to 4-0 in his last four road starts.
Dye homered off Indians starter Paul Byrd in the sixth and threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the eighth.
Down 4-3, Cleveland got the tying run to third in the eighth with one out. Franklin Gutierrez then hit a fly to medium right that Dye caught on the move before firing a perfect one-hop throw to get pinch-runner Ben Francisco.
The White Sox added an insurance run in the ninth when A.J. Pierzynski was hit in the right elbow by Tom Mastny with the bases loaded. But once again, Chicago’s bullpen couldn’t make it stand up.
On Monday, Chicago relievers nearly blew a nine-run lead in an 11-10 victory, prompting general manager Kenny Williams to unexpectedly join his struggling team on its 11-game road trip.
Byrd, who has just one win in his last eight starts, walked two — the most he has allowed in 16 starts since April 14.
Dye, the subject of several trade rumors, gave the White Sox a 4-2 lead with his 16th homer, a towering shot to left.
With little trust in his bullpen, Guillen had no choice but to stick with Garland, who threw 97 pitches through five innings. The Indians pulled within 4-3 on Trot Nixon’s RBI single but Garland got Kelly Shoppach to pop out on his final pitch with two runners on to end the threat.