CHICAGO – The Oakland Athletics have made a habit of close games this season.
One night after a thrilling victory, Oakland got a glimpse of the other side of a one-run decision.
Ramirez's shot came one night after Oakland beat Chicago 2-1 in 10 innings on Kurt Suzuki's extra-inning home run.
The Athletics entered the game having won four of their past five games despite scoring a total of just 11 runs during that span.
Five runs was an improvement for the Oakland offense, but the Athletics continued their string of close games. Oakland's past eight games have been decided by a total of 10 runs.
Warming up before the game, Oakland A's starter Trevor Cahill was throwing effortlessly — that worried him.
"My bullpen before the game went unusually better than I expected," Cahill said. "Usually I'm pretty bad in the bullpen, but today I was pretty good. I knew I was going to be struggling after that."
After laboring through the first inning leaving two runners on base, Cahill struggled in the second. He allowed four hits and two walks, including a three-run homer to Ramirez, as the White Sox scored four runs.
"Even in the first I didn't really know where the ball was going," Cahill said. "I knew I was going to have a rough night."
Cahill lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
"When I tried to throw a fastball I was yanking everything and leaving it down the middle," Cahill said.
It was a hanging curve that Ramirez hit out to give the White Sox a 4-1 lead after two innings.
"It looked like he might not find it after that inning, but he did get it back and gave us a chance to win," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "His command was much better. Something clicked in."
The A's rallied to take a 5-4 lead on a two-run homer by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the sixth inning.
"I was looking for something up in the zone to put the barrel of the bat on and fortunately I got a good pitch," Kouzmanoff said. "We're definitely making progress. We're starting to hit."
"It was encouraging to see the way we swung the bat," Geren said. "Matsui looked great, Barton had a heck of a night. All around looks like the offense is getting it going, waking up a little bit, whatever phrase you want to use. Got to be happy about that."
But hitting woes plagued the A's after the Kouzmanoff homer, as they managed just one infield single (Matsui) over the final four innings.
"We needed this win bad," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "After the loss last night, we bounced back and played a great game."
Bobby Cramer (0-1) took the loss for Oakland.
Cahill escaped the first inning without a run despite allowing a single, a walk and throwing two wild pitches. He wasn't as fortunate in the second.
Ramirez hammered his second homer of the season on a hanging breaking pitch to put the White Sox up 3-1. Chicago added another run in the inning on Paul Konerko's grounder, but Cahill settled down after that, retiring six in a row.
Geren brought in reliever Craig Breslow. He got A.J. Pierzynski on a flyout to left to end the inning.
Oakland scored in the third on Matsui's RBI groundout.
Matsui drove in the Athletics' third run, singling with two outs in the fifth to score Coco Crisp and cut the deficit to 4-3.
Suzuki then reached on Ramirez's error, a play coming on Edwin Jackson's 100th pitch. Guillen then brought in Will Ohman, who got Ryan Sweeney on a fielder's choice.
The Athletics loaded the bases against Pena, but he escaped the jam by striking out Suzuki.
Ramirez's game-winner came against Cramer. He has 17 of his 57 career homers off lefties.
"Alexei has been great over the years versus lefties," Guillen said. "He's very dangerous hitter."