CHICAGO – Tyler Flowers got some rare playing time Saturday night behind the plate for the Chicago White Sox. He responded with a career-high three hits, including a homer, and three RBIs.
But a 9-7 loss to the Oakland Athletics kept him from enjoying his big night.
"It's nice, but I'd rather win the game. Defense and the pitchers are the priority," said Flowers, who also dropped a popup for an error. "It's not as good as if we had won the game."
Chicago gave up five runs in the third inning when starter Francisco Liriano, who struck out the first four batters he faced and five of the first six, suddenly lost it.
"Everything changed. I was just missing my spots," said Liriano, who gave up six runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings. He now has three no-decisions since joining the White Sox in trade from Minnesota.
"It was kind of a nerve-racking game there behind the plate. Both teams were swinging the bat well," Flowers said.
"He (Liriano) made some mistakes up in the zone a little bit and Oakland has been swinging the bats well. They put a five spot on us before we even know it. It happens that quick, especially when they're hot."
The White Sox scored in the seventh on A.J. Pierzynski's RBI single for a 7-6 lead, but Jonny Gomes homered off Matt Thornton (4-8) to tie the game in the eighth and Brandon Inge added a go-ahead single off reliever Brett Myers. Inge's hit came shortly after he'd hurt his shoulder in the previous inning when he made a diving stop on Alex Rios' infield single.
"I dislocated it. I just had to put it back in the socket," Inge said. Two batters he later he started an inning-ending double play from third base.
"It might get a little sore tomorrow, but I'll do my best," Inge said.
Gomes added an RBI single in the top of the ninth before Grant Balfour pitched the bottom half for his eighth save in 10 chances, his first since May 5. Balfour took the closer's role back from Ryan Cook (5-2), who gave up Pierzynski's single in the seventh but got the win.
"I was surprised he stayed in the game. He felt like the shoulder may have come out of the socket and went back in," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of the veteran Inge.
"He stayed in, made a great play on the double-play and ends up getting what ends up being the biggest hit. We all know he's a very tough guy and can play through a lot of pain."
Kevin Youkilis also homered for Chicago and was hit in the left forearm by a Balfour pitch in the ninth. Manager Robin Ventura said Youkilis had a big welt on his arm.
Thornton took the blame for the pitch he made to Gomes.
"It's really frustrating. We've been playing well and I didn't do my job tonight," he said. "One-run lead and I thought it was a good idea to throw him a breaking ball. He jumped all over it."
NOTES: White Sox 1B Paul Konerko will take it easy this weekend and will be re-evaluated by doctors after sustaining a concussion earlier this week and being placed on the seven-day DL. Chicago manager Robin Ventura said Konerko won't be on the first part of next week's trip that starts in Toronto. OF Dewayne Wise was called up from Triple-A to take Konerko's roster spot.