OAKLAND, Calif. -- David Robertson got some rest and Zach Putnam made his 2016 debut courtesy of a late White Sox rally on Thursday.
After struggling for nearly two games, the White Sox blew open Thursday’s 6-1 victory over the Oakland A’s in the ninth inning as their hitters produced six singles in a span of seven at-bats. The string of offense helped turn a tight ballgame into one in which White Sox relievers could rest a little easier, Robertson in particular. The closer, who converted saves on Monday and Tuesday, was readying himself for a third save opportunity when the White Sox started a singles parade against Oakland A’s reliever Liam Hendriks.
“Adding on there late was even better,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We’re hopefully going to use (Robertson) quite a bit. If we can stretch it out there in the ninth, get up by a little bit and save him.”
Several innings after his best swing of the season resulted in a deep fly out, Avisail Garcia started the rally with a leadoff single to center in the ninth inning and the White Sox ahead 2-0. Austin Jackson entered as a pinch-runner for Garcia and stole second base. He moved to third on a Brett Lawrie bloop single that fell just in front of Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick and scored on Dioner Navarro’s RBI single off the right-field fence.
Tyler Saladino, who earlier had the team’s first hit, kept the rally alive with a hard liner past first base for an RBI single and a four-run lead. Adam Eaton -- the first Sox player with four straight multi-hit games to start the season since Nellie Fox in 1955 -- kept the line moving with a single to load the bases. Melky Cabrera singled in a run to make it a 5-0 game and Jose Abreu, who put the White Sox up by two with a sixth-inning homer, had a sac fly.
The late outburst couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only have the White Sox had difficulty stringing hits together, they’d also played in three straight one-run games to start the season. The last time a White Sox team did that to start the season was 1972.
Robertson, who was warming in the bullpen Thursday and got up to throw late in Wednesday’s loss in case the team rallied, quickly took a seat with a six-run cushion.
“It’s definitely nice at the end of the game to tack a few more on,” Saladino said. “Especially that push at the end, it really throws the momentum our way. We’ve played some close games and that just gave us a little extra breathing room right there.”
The lead came in handy when Putnam gave up a single, threw a wild pitch and Chris Coghlan singled in a run for the A’s. Putnam struck out two to close it out.