Rookie designated hitter Daniel Palka, who struck out in his first four at-bats, crushed a two-run, tie-breaking homer in the ninth inning, leading the Chicago White Sox past the host Tampa Bay Rays 8-7 on Sunday afternoon.
Palka hit the first pitch he saw from reliever Diego Castillo (2-2), blasting a 96-mph pitch over the wall in center. The homer came with two outs, and it was preceded by Jose Abreu’s single.
Tampa Bay closed the score to 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth on doubles by C.J. Cron and Kevin Kiermaier, who earned the RBI.
But Chicago left-hander Hector Santiago (4-3), who allowed both doubles, got Jesus Sucre to hit into a broken-bat, game-ending double play as the White Sox completed a three-game sweep over the Rays.
Chicago was also led by Avisail Garcia, who hit a pair of two-out, solo homers and has 13 long balls this season.
James Shields, the only Rays pitcher ever to win a World Series game, settled for a no-decision for Chicago. Shields, who played seven years for Tampa Bay, allowed five hits, four walks and four runs (two earned) in six innings.
Shields got in trouble with his second pitch in the first inning, a 91-mph fastball that Mallex Smith stroked for a leadoff single. That eventually led to Joey Wendle’s RBI single.
Chicago tied the score 1-1 in the second inning. Garcia drew a leadoff walk, stole his first base of the year and scored on Tim Anderson’s RBI single.
Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead in the third with a pair of unearned runs thanks to a throwing error by catcher Dustin Garneau.
Chicago tied the score for the second time, in the fourth, plating two runs. Nicky Delmonico drew a leadoff walk, advanced on Leury Garcia’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Anderson’s single. Anderson took second on the throw home and scored on an RBI single by Garneau, who redeemed himself for his throwing error.
Avisail Garcia’s first homer of the day gave Chicago a 4-3 in the fifth, and Leury Garcia added an RBI single in the same frame.
Tampa Bay cut its deficit to 5-4 on Wendle’s solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. But Avisail Garcia’s second homer gave Chicago its two-run lead back at 6-4.
Tampa Bay tied the score at 6 in the seventh on Ji-Man Choi’s two-run single, setting up Palka’s heroics.
Smith led Tampa Bay with four hits, and Wendle went 3-for-3 with homer, two runs scored and two RBIs.