Dye caps late Sox rally past Tribe

Dye caps late Sox rally past Tribe

CHICAGO -- Friday probably marked the single greatest day of Brian Anderson's less-than-stellar rookie season. And his highlights didn't completely come from the White Sox 5-4, come-from-behind victory over the Indians before 33,909 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sure, the White Sox center fielder basically saved the game with an incredible running catch on a Travis Hafner blast to left-center in the eighth inning, preventing two extra runs from scoring, and giving the White Sox a chance to rally in the bottom of the frame.

It also didn't hurt Anderson's outlook that manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams met before the game and put an end to the "Is he staying or is he going saga," deciding that Anderson will be an integral part of the Major League team for the foreseeable future.

Anderson even received a rare show of support from the White Sox faithful during this current homestand. Although he finished 0-for-3 at the plate, watching his average dip to .154, Anderson received not one but two standing ovations from the crowd after making his sensational grab and then exiting the field at the end of the inning.

Never at loss for a good one- or two-liner, Anderson made a tongue-in-cheek reference to the positive reaction after the victory.

"I didn't know how to react because I was used to hearing boos this week," said Anderson with a smile. "I didn't know what that whole clapping with applause thing was.

"[Brandon] McCarthy and I were joking around about it. I think they thought it was somebody else who caught it. It really was awesome."

A few more storylines, outside of Anderson's heroics, developed from the White Sox (37-23) moving into a virtual first-place tie with the Tigers (38-23) in the American League Central. In fact, as the Tigers were giving away a three-run lead during an eight-run Toronto eighth, Jermaine Dye was providing the game-winning hit in the White Sox own eighth-inning rally, giving reliever Matt Thornton (1-1) his second career victory.

Jim Thome started the uprising by drawing a two-out walk off of Cleveland starter Cliff Lee. Right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt replaced Lee and promptly yielded Paul Konerko's double to left, putting the go-ahead runner in scoring position, with Dye on deck, but first base open.

Dye launched his 19th home run in the sixth inning off Lee and entered the at-bat hitting .458 with runners in scoring position and two outs. A.J. Pierzynski, the left-handed hitter on deck, featured a .192 average in the same situation.

But Cleveland manager Eric Wedge chose to pitch to Dye, banking on his six previous hitless at-bats against Betancourt, including four strikeouts. Wedge's hunch didn't pay off, as Dye lined a 1-2 pitch into center, bringing home Thome and Konerko for a 5-4 advantage.

In regard to the fateful eighth-inning at-bat, Dye was surprised Betancourt (0-2) went after him with nothing but fastballs.

"He throws hard, but he has a good slider," Dye said. "It kind of fooled me that he threw me all fastballs, but I just tried to use my hands and hit it hard.

"I just had a good night," added the humble Dye, who currently is hitting .480 with 20 RBIs with two outs and runners in scoring position and has 46 RBIs overall. "I was put in a situation to help this team win, and I got the job done."

Javier Vazquez exited with two out and two runners on in the sixth, holding a 2-1 lead, which was almost as amazing a feat as Dye's hit or Anderson's catch. The right-hander threw 110 pitches during his short stint on the mound and allowed a Cleveland runner to reach third base in each of the first four innings.

Yet, Vazquez found a way to minimize the damage, posting a season-high nine strikeouts and causing Guillen to use a magical reference when talking about Vazquez in his postgame interview session.

"I think David Copperfield was pitching today," Guillen said. "What's the other guy's name? Harry Houdini? Houdini was on the mound. All the sudden he was buried and he came out and he was alive. He battled. He didn't have his best stuff, but he made the big pitch when he had to make it."

"A lot of it is luck," Vazquez added. "I'm lucky that I threw good pitches when I needed them."

Neal Cotts gave up Hafner's three-run home run on the next batter after Vazquez departed, giving Cleveland (29-31) a 4-2 lead. It was 4-3 in the eighth when Anderson basically raced from right-center field to left-center field and caught Hafner's towering fly ball as he crashed into the wall.

Anderson looked as if he might have injured his right shoulder upon impact. With a sort of crooked smile, Anderson said his slow movements after making the catch were more for effect.

"I jived it up a little bit so it looked better for television," Anderson said.

In the course of three days, Anderson has gone from facing a likely trip to Triple-A Charlotte to a temporary reprieve to a return as the White Sox everyday center fielder -- barring a few absences against tough right-handers.

With his stellar defense, Anderson certainly has earned another chance. In the long run, pitching and defense basically are what this championship team is about.

"I'm very, very appreciative, that's all I can say," Anderson said. "Thanks goes to your manager and your general manager for having the confidence in you."

"You can't change minds on your philosophy from one day to another and not know what direction we are going," Guillen added. "We are going to stay with him. We have faith with him. He can play at this level."

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