A lot of unusual occurrences on both sides contributed to the White Sox' 4-3 victory over the Cubs in the rubber match of the City Series, Part 1.
The biggest was a 2-run triple to the gap in right-center by A.J. Pierzynski. It was the first triple in more than two years for the Sox' speed-challenged catcher, and it easily brought home Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios, who had singled to open the inning.
Pierzynski's fourth-inning drive off Cubs starter Doug Davis snapped a scoreless tie.
One pitch later, Brent Lillibridge's squeeze bunt scored Pierzynski, who was sliding across the plate as Davis fielded the ball. When Davis was late firing to first and bounced his throw to Carlos Pena, Lillibridge was generously credited with a single.
Lillibridge put the Sox up 4-1 in the fifth, when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing home Alexei Ramirez, who had walked with two outs.
And, of course, it wouldn't be a Cubs-Sox series without the obligatory drama. This time it was provided by a dugout argument between Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy and, you guessed it, Pierzynski.
The battery mates exchanged some harsh words and carried their dispute into the tunnel leading to the Sox' clubhouse after the top of the sixth inning.
Peavy pitched OK in his first start since coming off the disabled list with a groin injury and ran his record to 3-1. He allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks in 5⅓ innings.
As he headed to the dugout after being pulled, Peavy appeared to turn back to the mound and point and yell something at Pierzynski.
Manager Ozzie Guillen downplayed the incident.
“It's a Cubs-Sox game, so we have to make something happen,” he joked. “It's not a big deal. I don't think it's going to be an issue. I think it was something about signs.”
The two debaters also laughed it off.
“We were just talking about Alabama vs. Florida (football),” Pierzynski said. “He has bragging rights on me because Alabama beat them the last couple times. That's about it.
“We're fine. I love Jake Peavy. He's a great competitor and in the heat of the moment things happen. It wasn't a big deal. I guess it was caught on camera, but it wasn't a big deal.”
Peavy looked on the light side, too.
“Me and A.J. were actually arguing about who's the better hunter,” he said. “Listen, we're just competing. That's gong to happen from time to time. We're both passionate people.”
There were some odd happenings on the Cubs' side as well, including 3 stolen bases by a team that had just 21 entering the game.
Alfonso Soriano, who had walked just seven times in the Cubs' first 73 games, walked in each of his first 2 plate appearances and stole his first base of the season in the fourth inning.
Actually, the stolen base wasn't that shocking, considering that Pierzynski had thrown out just seven of 56 baserunners (12.5 percent) going into the game. He also failed to nab Starlin Castro, who swiped second after drawing a third-inning walk, just his 14th free pass of the season.
What wasn't surprising were Castro's pair of singles, the second of which drove home Kosuke Fukudome, who had doubled, with the Cubs' first run in the fifth.
Castro entered the game hitting .320 and was third in the major leagues with 97 hits.
He has been one of the few bright spots in a disappointing Cubs season, and Guillen became the latest to jump on the Castro bandwagon, although the former shortstop had some words of caution.
“He's got a chance to be a great ballplayer,” Guillen said, “but be careful. He has to stay the way he is right now, very humble, play the game right, don't change what you do, and you'll be fine.
“Some kids, just because they have a couple hits here and there, and they read in the paper every day about how good they are, all of a sudden they change and then, when things go south, they don't know what to do. Just stay the same way and this kid is going to be a superstar, there's no doubt in my mind he will be.”
But, after the Cubs trimmed the Sox' lead to 4-3 in the sixth and had the bases loaded, the first-pitch-hitting Castro grounded out to third. Cubs manager Mike Quade did not have a problem with his shortstop's approach.
“He's been successful being aggressive,” Quade said. “That's a (heck) of a time to ask him to be passive.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.