CHICAGO -- It was a night during which Juan Pierre, with 15 career homers, went deep down the right-field line for the White Sox. It was a night when Alejandro De Aza, with two career triples, doubled that total by the sixth inning against the Indians.
And it was a night when the White Sox pounded out a season-high 22 hits and recorded a season-best 19 strikeouts and needed extra innings to reach a final decision. Oh, yes, it also was a night when the White Sox moved back over .500 for the first time since April 15 with an 8-7 win over the Indians in 14 innings, played before 24,695 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Many of those fans watched from the comfort of their homes by the time Pierre singled off David Huff to score Gordon Beckham from third with the game-winner.
Justin Verlander made sure the Tigers (65-57) stayed 3 1/2 up on the White Sox (61-60) in the American League Central with a 7-1 win over Minnesota. But the South Siders' seventh win in eight games this year against the Indians (60-58) and ninth in their last 11 overall moved them within one-half game of second place.
It was a hugely important outcome to open this three-game set, with six White Sox relievers throwing 146 pitches and eight Cleveland pitchers out of the bullpen combining to throw 143 pitches.Mark Buehrle and his 3.06 ERA against and Fausto Carmona and his 18 earned runs allowed in eight innings against the White Sox this season seem to give the host team a decided edge after Tuesday's five-hour, 21-minute marathon.
"We just battled, and they battled," said Pierre, whose three hits raised his average to .286. "You expect to do that when you're in the hunt. They didn't give in, and we didn't give in. It was just a big victory. To be out there so long, it would be really tough to come in after a loss."
"Everybody participated and contributed and did their job," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who finished 2-for-7 in the victory. "It took 14 innings, but we got it done."
Flowers contributed to Tuesday's craziness by knocking out one of five triples for a team entering the contest with eight as a unit. Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios also put up three-baggers to go with Flowers and De Aza, but only two of those triples scored.
In fact, Rios opened the 11th with a triple to right-center against Cleveland closer Chris Perez. He was stranded there when Ramirez grounded out to third, and Flowers lined into a double play following an intentional walk issued to Brent Lillibridge. That lack of scoring punch in those situations didn't go unnoticed by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
"I wish we had scored a little bit more on those triples," Guillen said. "You don't see that often. We're not a triples team, so that's kind of weird. But it's fun to watch."
Somewhere back around 7:10 p.m. CT, White Sox fans began watching Gavin Floyd and Ubaldo Jimenez pitch for their respective teams. Neither starter was anywhere to be found by the time the game ended on Wednesday after midnight.
Floyd struck out five straight batters in the first and second and finished with nine, while allowing five runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. Guillen was pleased with the way the White Sox drove up the pitch count for Jimenez, who exited with four runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, but at a robust 105 pitches.
"As a pitcher, you want to give your team an opportunity to win," Jimenez said. "You don't want to put the team in a bad position like I did today. The bullpen had to throw a lot of innings because I wasn't able to pitch good."
Holding a 7-6 lead in the ninth, Sergio Santos blew his fourth save through a walk, a Michael Brantley bloop single to center and Shin-Soo Choo's grounder that Beckham could only turn into a forceout at second. But Santos stranded two runners by striking out Travis Hafner, just as Jesse Crain pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the 13th by striking out Choo and getting Asdrubal Cabrera on a groundout.
Stellar relief work from Matt Thornton, Crain and Jason Frasor (3-2), covering five scoreless innings with six strikeouts, set up Pierre's heroics. Beckham doubled off Chad Durbin (2-2) with one out and moved to third on Brent Morel's career-high fourth hit, bringing in the southpaw Huff to face Pierre.
After looking at two pitches, Pierre singled to left to start a celebration greater than the one following his homer and to continue the White Sox dominance of the Indians.
"That's not a fluke," said Perez of the White Sox 13-1 record in the two teams' last 14 head-to-head games. "It's definitely something we need to change -- 7-1 [this season] against a team.
"At the same time, it doesn't bury us. But it would be nice to hold our own. They've had our number for a couple of years. ... They're a good team. Our whole division, there's really no Yankees or Red Sox."
Instead, there are three teams battling for one playoff spot, while trying to stay over .500. Seven wins in their last eight division games have helped the White Sox make a move, including Tuesday's crazy affair.
"You know, we battled, we fought, fun to watch," Guillen said. "Very stressful, a lot of stress. When you win games like this, you get up in the morning and feel a lot better as a team."