Tyler Flowers’ HRs tie game, then lift White Sox over A’s in 12th
CHICAGO — Tyler Flowers shocked the Oakland Athletics on Monday night — but probably no more than he surprised himself.
Flowers hit a solo home run to tie the game in the ninth inning and then added another to win it in the 12th, leading the Chicago White Sox to an improbable 5-4 victory.
The catcher became the first player to hit a game-tying home run in the ninth and a game-winning homer in extra innings since Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 13, 2013, against Baltimore.
“I wouldn’t put too much stock in that happening consistently,” said Flowers, who has a career-high 14 homers this season. “Next question.”
Jesse Chavez (8-8) struck out the first batter in the 12th before Flowers hit the next pitch over the left-field fence. It was the first walk-off homer and second two-homer game in his career.
“I definitely didn’t expect to hit a home run either time,” said Flowers, who fouled off four pitches before he went deep the first time. “I was just trying to battle and go with the information I had in front of me, and it happened to work out.”
The White Sox were one strike away from defeat when Flowers homered off Eric O’Flaherty in the ninth. Oakland closer Sean Doolittle was unavailable because of an intercostal strain.
“You’ve seen him go through some struggles offensively and look good at other points,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, whose team snapped a four-game losing streak. “For everything he does behind the plate, it’s nice for him to get this side of it, too.”
Javy Guerra (2-3) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory.
The fading Athletics lost for the ninth time in 11 games but remained atop the American League wild-card race.
“It’s tough to lose games like that,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There is a sense of urgency every game. We have 19 games left.”
The Athletics scored a run against Eric Surkamp in the eighth to take a 4-3 lead. Pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo started the rally with a walk, and after pinch runner Billy Burns stole second, Coco Crisp hit a soft single that Dayan Viciedo played passively in left field. Sam Fuld followed with a well-executed bunt that scored Burns from third.
The Athletics had a runner on third and no outs in the ninth, but Ronald Belisario induced Nate Freiman to hit into a double play that killed the threat.
Oakland starter Sonny Gray pitched effectively for seven innings but didn’t figure in the decision. The right-hander gave up three runs — two earned — four hits and three walks.
Chicago counterpart Hector Noesi took a one-hitter and a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning, which Derek Norris opened with a single. Josh Reddick followed with a home run to right field, and Jed Lowrie did the same on the next pitch. It marked the fourth time Oakland has hit back-to-back homers this season.
The home runs were the 24th and 25th off Noesi this season, giving him the league lead in the category. The right-hander allowed four hits and one walk in 6 1/3 innings.
Fuld protected the 3-2 lead in the bottom half, when the 5-foot-10 left fielder went above the fence to rob Alexei Ramirez of a solo homer.
Conor Gillaspie tied it 3-all with a solo homer in the sixth.
The White Sox broke out to a 2-0 lead without the benefit of a hit in the first, which Adam Eaton and Ramirez opened with consecutive walks. One out later, first baseman Brandon Moss couldn’t handle Gillaspie’s bouncer for an error that allowed a run. A wild pitch moved the runners before Avisail Garcia hit a sacrifice fly.
Athletics: Doolittle reported no complications after he threw 20 pitches off a mound. The left-hander is scheduled to pitch to batters Wednesday, and barring a setback, he might come off the DL the next day. … O’Flaherty tested his back before the game and felt well enough for bullpen duty. … C John Jaso will consult with concussion expert Dr. Micky Collins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. If cleared to play, the veteran is likely to come back as a pinch hitter and designated hitter, although a return to the field remains possible later this month.
White Sox: 1B Paul Konerko remains out indefinitely because of a fractured left hand. He hopes to return before the end of the season, which will be his last before retirement.
In a matchup of left-handers, the Athletics will send Jon Lester (13-10, 2.54 ERA) to the mound against John Danks (9-10, 5.12) on Tuesday night.
Athletics designated hitter Adam Dunn received a University of Texas golf cart from ex-teammates John Danks and Chris Sale before the game. “They could have handed me a Texas pencil and it would have been pretty cool,” said the Houston native, who then joked, “I probably won’t sell it immediately.” Dunn returned to Chicago for the first time since he was dealt last month.
MORE POWER TO HIM
White Sox cleanup hitters other than 1B Jose Abreu have combined for 20 homers and 57 RBIs in 430 at-bats this season. Abreu entered the game with four homers since the All-Star break compared to 29 before it. Asked whether he would like better protection behind Abreu next season, Ventura said, “I would like to have it for obvious reasons, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
*Photo courtesy of AP