Friday, August 6, 2010

Heath Bell Saves Padres; Mark Kotsay Leads ChiSox Past Tigers

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 5, 2010 American League Though the Chicago White Sox may not be able to get too far ahead of the Minnesota Twins, in the race for the AL Central, they've definitely put the Detroit Tigers out of contention. The Sox took the final game of their four-game series at Detroit by a 6-4 score in 11 innings Thursday, winning three of four and dropping the Tigers further behind, now nine games off the pace. Minnesota beat Tampa Bay, 8-6, to remain just 1 1/2 behind Chicago. During the four-game series, manager Ozzie Guillen employed most of his bullpen and some aggressive base running to keep one or two steps ahead of the Tigers. On Thursday, Mark Kotsay, a .223 hitter who Guillen keeps in the lineup as either a DH, outfielder or first baseman, delivered the decisive blows for the win. Kotsay, playing first base while Paul Konerko was the DH, cracked a two-run homer in the top of the 9th to put the Sox up 4-1, but Detroit's Ryan Raburn responded with a three-run blast to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. In the 11th, Kotsay appeared at the plate again in a key situation, with one out and runners on first and second, this time delivering a triple to the right-center gap that plated both runners with the winning scores. Detroit could not respond in the 9th even though Raburn got to the plate again with runners on first and second. This time, reliever Sergio Santos got him to ground harmlessly to second to end the game. National League Shut out 9-0 the previous day, the San Diego Padres returned the favor with a 5-0 whitewash of the LA Dodgers on Thursday, splitting their four-game series with LA at two wins apiece. Even though the final score seemed a comfortable-enough margin of victory, the win was not without its nail-biting moments. With two out in the 8th inning and the Padres up 3-1, the Dodgers had runners on first and third, so closer Heath Bell was called upon to bail out Luke Gregerson from the jam he had gotten himself into. Bell retired James Loney on a ground out to end the threat, and, after the Padres tacked on a couple more runs in the top of 9th, Bell returned to finish the game. Bell put two aboard with a walk and a single, but shut down the rally by fanning Rafael Belliard and getting a ground out from Garret Anderson to end the game. For Bell, the 1 1/3 innings produced his 31st save, and kept the Padres 2 games ahead of idle san Francisco while sending the Dodgers back to 4th place in the division, 8 games back. Bell tied the Giants' Brian Wilson for the NL saves lead.

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