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CWS@OAK: Konerko jacks his 400th career homer

OAKLAND -- If Oakland's 5-4 victory in 14 innings over the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon at the Coliseum looked familiar, it's probably because this same sort of gut-wrenching defeat happens just about every time the South Siders visit this particular venue.

"It seems like that game we just played, almost every time we come here, on getaway day, it's almost a carbon copy of that game," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko, whose 400th career home run leading off the ninth produced the bonus baseball. "We had a lot of chances. It was nice to get back in the game and give ourselves a chance at getting the win. But it wasn't in the cards.

"All and all, we didn't play well enough to win that game. I'm not sure if anybody did. It kind of worked out the way it worked out."

The way it worked out was the White Sox (10-8) taking a two-run lead in the top of the 14th on Alexei Ramirez's double off rookie Jim Miller (1-0), scoring Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza, after Ramirez started the day hitless in five at-bats. That advantage was then entrusted to closer Hector Santiago, who was trying to preserve Nate Jones' first Major League victory.

Oakland (10-10) had exactly one hit and two baserunners since the sixth inning, so the odds seemed stacked in favor of the White Sox. Those odds changed when Josh Reddick dumped a single to center, and Yoenis Cespedes followed with a two-run blast to left-center.

Cespedes' fifth homer and 18th RBI came on a changeup from Santiago, which he didn't feel was a bad pitch, especially when he thought back about the Cespedes' pitch sequence.

"I thought I made a great pitch to Cespedes right there, especially going fastball away and then offspeed changeup and he was out in front," said Santiago, who suffered his second blown save in six chances. "From the video I saw, he was out in front but he got a hold of it. He swings real hard, you know."

Three batters after Cespedes' shot, Kila Ka'aihue's bloop single scored Seth Smith with the game-winning run. The A's had seven hits over the first 13 innings, but then knocked out five straight against Santiago.

After the setback, White Sox manager Robin Ventura reaffirmed his commitment to Santiago as closer.

"Stuff happens, but we're still going with him," said Ventura of Santiago. "He's going to be fine."

"I'm trying to get the job done," Santiago said. "Tonight was a rough night. I got up a bunch and I was trying to be ready and I go out there and make some good pitches and bloop singles."

There really shouldn't have been a need to hang this one on Santiago if the White Sox cashed in on one of their countless earlier chances. In the top of the 13th, the first two hitters reached base against reliever Jerry Blevins only to have pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge picked off of second by catcher Kurt Suzuki as Lillibridge tried to get a jump on an apparent A.J. Pierzynski bunt attempt.

Pierzynski popped out, but Alex Rios followed with a double past third baseman Eric Sogard. Third-base coach Joe McEwing sent pinch-runner Gordon Beckham home from first, but Beckham was nailed at the plate on a throw from Cliff Pennington to Sogard to Suzuki.

"That play took a perfect throw and boom, perfect throw," said Konerko.

Back in the seventh, after Kosuke Fukudome doubled home Rios to cut a 2-0 lead in half and moved to third on the throw to the plate, Brent Morel was entrusted with the job of squeezing home Fukudome with the tying run on a 2-1 pitch from reliever Ryan Cook. Fukudome broke as if it was a suicide squeeze, but Morel offered at it more as a safety squeeze.

Fukudome was tagged out, the White Sox did not score and Ventura took the fall for this particular miscue.

"Just a little mix-up," Ventura said. "One got a suicide and one got the other one. It's my fault."

One more scoring situation was snuffed out in the eighth, aided by the call of third-base umpire Dan Bellino. Nine-place hitter Eduardo Escobar drew a five-pitch walk from Cook, and De Aza appeared to be hit on the left arm while trying to bunt a 1-1 pitch. But on appeal, Bellino ruled De Aza offered at it for a strike although replays showed he pulled the bat back.

De Aza struck out and Ramirez grounded out to third. Oakland manager Bob Melvin elected to have Cook face Adam Dunn, even with a left-handed reliever warming up, and Dunn popped out to Jemile Weeks to end the threat.

White Sox starter Chris Sale allowed two runs on six hits over eight innings, striking out five and not issuing a walk. He was matched by highly touted prospect Jarrod Parker, who gave up one run on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings in his A's debut.

They were erased from the decision when Konerko launched Grant Balfour's first pitch for his milestone homer and 2,000th hit as part of the White Sox. Even with a 1-for-11 showing with runners in scoring position and 11 men left on base, the White Sox looked poised to finish this road trip at 5-1.

But as the saying goes, the game is never over until the last out -- especially for the White Sox in Oakland.

"You truly have to know you have outs left," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Down, then up, then a stalemate for a long time. All of a sudden they get two and we get three. Using every out we had, definitely."

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