Ozuna completes White Sox rally

Ozuna completes White Sox rally

CHICAGO -- Forget about the White Sox 2005 World Series championship for a moment, if that's possible.

Put aside the South Siders' utter domination of the Cubs this past weekend. The true sign of White Sox success stems from a rare victory over the A's, which came in exciting come-from-behind fashion Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Trailing by two runs in the eighth, Rob Mackowiak's pinch-hit home run off closer Huston Street tied the game and Pablo Ozuna's bunt single in the 10th brought home the winning run in a 5-4 victory before the team's 10th sellout of the season at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox entered Monday with a 4-14 record against the A's (22-22) over the last two years, including a 1-5 record at home.

Ozzie Guillen's crew also was coming off Sunday's disappointing setback to the Cubs, not to mention staring up at another victory from Detroit atop the American League Central. It was an important rally, despite it being only the 44th game off the schedule, pulled off with Guillen in the clubhouse following his sixth career ejection,

"This game was real huge for us," said White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, who improved to 2-1 with two innings of scoreless relief. "It put us right back on track."

"Especially after yesterday's loss," Mackowiak added. "To come back late in the game like this is an emotional boost."

Mackowiak provided Monday's first surge with two outs in the eighth, Juan Uribe on second and Oakland leading, 4-2. Left-handed reliever Randy Keisler was set to face Brian Anderson, but Oakland manager Ken Macha opted to bring in Street. The White Sox countered with Mackowiak.

Street's first pitch was launched toward the right-field fence by Mackowiak. It barely cleared Jay Payton's leaping attempt, producing the South Side native's first home run with the White Sox (29-15).

"First-pitch changeup, I definitely didn't think he'd hit a homer," Street said. "I was just trying to get ahead, 0-1. He was coming off the bench, and I figured he'd be sitting on a fastball the first pitch. Credit him for whacking it."

"Any time you can help the team win, coming off the bench and hitting a home run, and with it being my first one with the White Sox, it means a little more to me," Mackowiak added.

The winning run scored through a classic example of Guillen's small ball. Reliever Ron Flores (0-1) walked A.J. Pierzynski with one out in the 10th, and one out later, Mackowiak sent Pierzynski to third with a ground single to right. Ozuna, who started in left field against Barry Zito, knew what he wanted to do from the time he left the dugout, pushing a bunt toward first base.

Nick Swisher fielded the perfectly placed bunt. But his throw to Marco Scutaro was not in time to nail the fleet-footed Ozuna.

"On the on-deck circle, I was thinking if Mackowiak got a hit and there were runners on first and third, depending on the way they played me, my best asset on the team is my bunting," said Ozuna, through translator Ozzie Guillen Jr. "I was going to try to lay one down and beat the throw out. I'm a better bunter than I'm a hitter."

"That's the man you want in that situation, especially against lefties with men on third base and two outs," Guillen added of Ozuna. "I told a couple of guys in the clubhouse he will make something happen."

Monday's series opener also featured the return of Frank Thomas, the Hall of Fame-bound slugger, who set 12 records during 16 years with the White Sox. And Thomas returned with authority, homering in both his first and third at-bats, sandwiching a single in between. Thomas did pop out to Pierzynski in the 10th inning against Jenks, with runners on second and third and one out.

Those two blasts came off Jon Garland, whose ERA now sits at 6.12 through 57 1/3 innings, after allowing four runs on 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings. Garland yielded Thomas' home run in the second, followed by Bobby Crosby's blast and Payton's double off the right-field wall, sending Guillen to the mound.

But Guillen apparently wanted to argue balls and strikes calls with home-plate umpire Doug Eddings, who quickly handed the White Sox manager his second ejection this season. The contest also was delayed in the second when a squirrel ran on to the field and raced around the right-field corner, before exiting into the tarp.

"I was sleeping then," said Guillen of the squirrel, drawing a huge laugh from the assembled media. "No, I was throwing stuff in my office when that thing happened. I heard [television announcers Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson] make a big deal about a little animal on the field.

"He's the boss and he has to control the game," added Guillen of Eddings. "But meanwhile, I have a job to do. I have to protect my players. If there's something wrong against my team, I have to show my players I'm there for them."

Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly and Jermaine Dye's 11th home run leading off the eighth accounted for the first two White Sox runs, but they had baserunners in every inning and a chance for so much more against Zito. The Oakland left-hander, with the big breaking curve, gave up four hits over six innings and struck out seven, but he also walked six.

Zito was long gone by the time this game was decided. Thomas was still there, but his former team swiped a little of his Monday thunder.

"He did good in front of his fans," said Ozuna of Thomas. "But No. 1 is that we won the game."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.