ARLINGTON -- When it was finally over -- three hours and 50 minutes later -- the Rangers poured out of the dugout as a team and mobbed Sammy Sosa near first base. It may have been just out of gratitude for ending the 11-inning affair, but it seemed more of a sign of respect for what he still means to the team and what he still delivers as a player. Even in a part-time, reserve role.
On Wednesday night, Sosa drove home both the tying and winning runs as the Rangers extended their winning streak to four games with a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "He's been phenomenal," Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "He's the consummate professional. Even though they're going with [Jason Botts] at DH and young guys in the outfield, he still gets in the [batting] cage and gets his work in and is ready for any situation. He's unbelievable. He's a future Hall of Famer." The Rangers won this one despite a season-high four errors. Kameron Loe pitched six innings and gave up four runs, but three were unearned because of three errors. Loe committed two of them himself. The Rangers also lost outfielder Frank Catalanotto with a strained groin muscle in the first inning. He is expected to miss 2-3 games at least. "We made some mistakes, but we recovered," manager Ron Washington said. "I would have liked to have won it in nine innings, but if you're going stay out there that long, you like to come away with a win." The Rangers did so because of Sosa and because of the bullpen. Loe left after six innings and five relievers held the White Sox hitless over the final five innings. The Rangers pitching staff now has a 3.94 ERA in its last 67 games and a 4.72 ERA for the season. That's not great, but it just so happens to be the same ERA as the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers. "It's been a big turnaround for us," Loe said. "It's really important for us. We struggled at the beginning, so to turn around and show we're a good staff is important. We took our lumps earlier, but we've been pretty reliable lately." Sosa was too on Wednesday night even though he watched the first six innings from the bench. But he was ready when the Rangers needed him in the seventh after Byrd drew a one-out walk off right-handed reliever Ryan Bukvich. With left-handed designated hitter Brad Wilkerson coming to the plate, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen brought in left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Washington countered with Sosa even though he was 0-for-6 with a walk as a pinch-hitter this year. Byrd put himself into scoring position by stealing second base and then Sosa lined a run-scoring double down the right-field line to make it a 4-4 game. "Every at-bat I'm still going to go up there and battle," Sosa said. "I'm not going to go up there and look like I've never played before. Every time I have the opportunity, I'm going to go hard. I've played hard all my life. I'm not going to give up now." The score stayed tied until the 11th when Ian Kinsler, facing left-handed reliever Boone Logan, got something started with one out, hitting a sky-high popup that fell in short center field between three defenders for a single. Michael Young followed with a double into the left-field corner that moved Kinsler to third and Byrd was intentionally walked to load the base. "Walking me to face a Hall of Famer," Byrd said. "That's not going to happen very often." Logan threw a first-pitch strike, then threw three straight balls. "I just had to be patient," Sosa said. "I knew he had to come at me some time." Logan did with a 93-mph fastball and Sosa ripped it hard on a line to center field. White Sox center fielder Jerry Owens misjudged the ball, going back too quickly, and he ended up having to come in and catch the ball off his ankles. But he stumbled and dropped the ball trying to rush the throw and the game was over. All that was left was to hail the conquering hero. "Sammy is a pro," Washington said. "Any guy in his situation wouldn't be happy, but he never hung his head and he's never stopped working. He told us he would help us any way he can. That's what he did tonight. He's been in those situations a thousand times and he finds a way to get that RBI." He has 76 on the year and, despite being reduced to a part-time role, he still leads the Rangers in RBIs on the season, seven more than Young. He'll be in the lineup again on Thursday against left-hander John Danks and on Friday against the Angels. "I know the situation is not the way I want it, but I'm going to stay ready," Sosa said. "Anytime Washington needs me, I'm ready. Any opportunity I get, I'm going to take advantage of it." His teammates showed their appreciation for that on Wednesday night.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.