The Cubs ran out of comebacks as rookie Gordon Beckham smacked a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the ninth to lift the White Sox to an 8-7 Interleague victory over the Cubs and even the crosstown series at two wins apiece.
The Cubs had taken advantage of the third White Sox error to go ahead, 7-6, in the eighth. Ryan Freel was safe on a drop by shortstop Alexei Ramirez, his second error, and reached third on Kosuke Fukudome's single. Andres Blanco hit a grounder to Ramirez, who looked Freel back, and threw to first. But Freel took off and was safe on a headfirst slide.
"I've done it before," Freel said. "You anticipate the guy, as soon as he picks up his arm and starts to throw, you take off."
But Ramirez made up for the mistake when he tied the game with a two-out RBI single in the eighth off Carlos Marmol, who suffered his fourth blown save. He blew two in 2008.
"Right now, he's going through a little rough spot," manager Lou Piniella said. "Nobody's immune from struggling. He'll take the ball and compete, and he wants to be out there. Good for him."
"I felt good because I threw strikes," said Marmol, whose problem had been walks.
That set up the White Sox ninth. Paul Konerko singled with one out off Sean Marshall (3-6). Pinch-runner Josh Fields replaced Konerko, and moved up on A.J. Pierzynski's groundout. Marshall was pulled, and Jose Ascanio walked pinch-hitter Jayson Nix. Beckham then lined the first pitch to right-center for the game-winner.
Piniella may be doing ads for antacids soon. All six games on the Cubs' road trip have been nailbiters and decided by two runs or fewer, plus Piniella met before the game with volatile outfielder Milton Bradley, who was sent home after throwing a tantrum Friday. The manager apologized to Bradley on Saturday for comments he made. Bradley started and was 1-for-5.
Did Bradley have any regrets?
"Just in how I've played," he said. "If I had been playing like myself, a lot of stuff wouldn't be an issue and we'd be winning a lot more. Winning solves everything."
He's right about that. Piniella couldn't fault the team's come-from-behind effort. On Saturday, the bullpen faltered, and the team missed Angel Guzman, on the disabled list with a strained tricep.
"Every time we feel like we're putting something together the way we like it, something happens," Piniella said. "It's the [darnedest] thing I've ever seen. We've got other people who have to step up and do the job."
Starter Ryan Dempster struggled. He gave up five runs on eight hits, lost his third straight start, and has not won on the road since April 12.
"It was frustrating because when we score that many runs, that's a game I should win," Dempster said. "It was a battle, it was a good ballgame because it was back and forth, but unfortunately, we came out on the bottom and not on top."
"I've seen him better," Piniella said. "He wasn't really sharp. I told him I'm expecting some good ones after this one. He struggled, he struggled with his command. Some good hitting on both sides, and it's good to see from our standpoint. From the fans' standpoint, it was a heck of a game."
The Cubs erased the White Sox 2-0 lead in the third when Blanco singled with one out and reached second on Beckham's throwing error. One out later, Ryan Theriot hit an RBI single, and he moved up on Ramirez's first error before scoring on Derrek Lee's single.
Lee added a sacrifice fly in the fifth to go ahead, 3-2, but the White Sox wore Dempster out in the fifth. Podsednik hit a one-out solo homer to tie the game, and the Sox then loaded the bases on a single, a walk and a hit batter. Pierzynski lined a two-run single to go ahead, 5-3. Dempster threw 38 pitches that inning.
"Pierzynski went down and got a good split and got a base hit," Dempster said.
The Cubs tied the game in the sixth on a two-run double by Alfonso Soriano, who then scored on Theriot's single. But the lead was shortlived as Dewayne Wise tripled and scored on Podsednik's single, his fourth hit of the game, in the White Sox sixth.
Despite everything -- the injuries, the off-field distractions -- the Cubs are only one game under .500.
"We win a couple, and lose a couple," Piniella said. "We have to get on a little bit of a roll. We won four in a row and stopped ourselves. Hopefully, we can win a series [Sunday] and keep going. We just have to take it one game at a time, and hopefully we'll find ourselves in a lot better position."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less