CHICAGO (AP) — Gavin Sheets hit a two-run tying homer in the seventh inning and scored the game-winning run on wild pitch in the ninth to lift the Chicago White Sox over the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Saturday night.
Sheets doubled an early double against Zach Jackson (2-3) in the ninth and advanced to third on Josh Harrison’s sacrificial bunt before Jackson bounced a slider with Tim Anderson at home plate.
Sheets had two big extra hits against A’s relievers after popping up twice against Oakland starter Paul Blackburn, including in the fifth with runners on second and third.
“I stayed in it mentally,” Sheets said. “Obviously super frustrated as far as I have to do the job in this situation.
“I’m delighted to have had two more chances and to stay there mentally and prepare for two big ones.”
Liam Hendricks (2-3) worked around Elvis Andrus’ brace in the top of the ninth for the win.
Sheets homered in seventh reliever Austin Pruitt to help the White Sox (50-50) stop a two-game mini-slip.
“It shows you his potential as a hitter when you can take a ball and hit it 500 feet and make a breaking pitch to the opposite court,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Chicago, the preseason favorite to win the AL Central, is three games behind first-place Minnesota and one game behind second-place Cleveland.
“We still have a lot of games left,” Sheets said. “And that’s the fun part of the season. I got a taste of the playoffs last year and I want to come back.”
Seth Brown hit a solo long shot for his third home run in two days and Blackburn returned to All-Star form with five shutout innings, but Oakland’s four-game winning streak came to an end.
Sean Murphy also went wide for the A’s. The catcher claimed a breakaway pitch that got away to end the game.
“I was trying to get past it, but I felt it was the right ground,” Murphy said. “I’m not going to throw it. You just have to have faith and call the game as it should be.”
Anderson hit the first pitch and struck twice as the All-Star shortstop appeals a three-game Major League Baseball suspension for making contact with home plate umpire Nick Mahrley during a an argument on Friday.
The discipline was announced just before Saturday’s first pitch. Anderson, who will remain active until his appeal is heard, declined to comment on the penalty after the game.
Chicago starter Johnny Cueto allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings. The veteran right-hander only walked one.
Blackburn came out with a 2-0 lead after allowing five hits, walking none and striking out four. All-Star for the first time this season, Blackburn had lost three games in a row with a 13.19 ERA on the slide.
The right-hander had allowed 21 runs and 20 hits in his previous 14 1/3 innings and was pounded for 10 runs by Texas last Sunday.
Blackburn was 6-3 with a 2.90 ERA before his sudden drop. He started the season 5-0 and had a 1.70 ERA on May 25.
“I feel like everything was pretty in sync today,” Blackburn said. “From my last start to this start, I feel like I was going back to getting the pitch balls I used to have. That’s a good sign for me. My lead is sinking and not sinking. not.”
Murphy hit his 12th homer to left field from Cueto in the first to put Oakland ahead 1-0. Brown threw a 452-foot right drive in the third, his 15th.
Brown hit two solo home runs Friday in her first game after the birth of her first child, son Cannon.
Pruitt, the second A’s reliever, hit Andrew Vaughn with a pitch to start the seventh. Sheets followed with his home run on the right.
MEMORIES OF MINNIE
Minnie Minoso, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last Sunday, was honored by the White Sox in a pre-game ceremony.
A Cuban native who grew up on a sugar cane plantation, Minoso was a nine-time All-Star and finished his career with 2,110 hits and a .299 batting average. He died in 2015.
He played with the New York Cubans in the black leagues before becoming the first black Latino player in the major leagues in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson burst onto the scene.
Athletics: Manager Mark Kotsay says INF Jed Lowrie (left shoulder) is scheduled to play seven to nine innings in the field Saturday during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas. Lowrie, who has been out since June 27, will likely be the DH in Las Vegas on Sunday.
White Sox: OF Luis Robert was scratched from a rehab game with Triple-A Charlotte due to cold symptoms, but La Russa said Robert would return to Chicago. The White Sox initially placed Robert on IL retroactive to July 19 with dizziness and blurred vision. … La Russa said RHP Reynaldo Lopez (back weakness) is progressing, but there is no timetable for his return.
Oakland RHP Adam Oller (1-3, 8.07 ERA) takes on Chicago RHP Dylan Cease (10-4, 2.03) on Sunday. Cease has allowed no runs in his last 20 2/3 innings while winning three straight starts.