MIAMI — The White Sox finally were on the receiving end Saturday night of one of those stunning moments that always seems to crush them.
Rather than come up empty in a key spot, the White Sox pulled ahead of the Miami Marlins in an 8-7 victory in front of 20,006 at Marlins Park in peculiar fashion. Melky Cabrera reached base on a wild pitch after he struck out with two down in the eighth inning and Dioner Navarro scored the go-ahead run from third on the same play after pitcher Kyle Barraclough dropped the throw home. One of the wildest plays of the season helped the White Sox to their first series victory since they beat the Cubs at home twice late last month.
“We’ve seen strange stuff happen on our end, definitely,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I can feel for (Barraclough) in that way. But it’s a good feeling to see a ball get away and Dio actually score on that. I don’t think you could ever imagine it.
“But for him, the guys seem to enjoy it. They definitely did.”
Navarro didn’t get the same satisfaction from the moment as his teammates.
“I know I didn’t because I was running,” Navarro said. “If they did, I’m happy to help them out.”
He and Justin Morneau both played key roles in an eighth-inning White Sox rally from a second deficit after James Shields blew an early 4-0 lead.
Jason Coats, who previously tied the score at 5 in the fourth with a solo homer, the first of his career, started the go-ahead rally with a leadoff single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and Barraclough walked Navarro. Morneau then made it a 7-all game with a pinch-hit double off the right-field fence.
But Barraclough clamped down. Giancarlo Stanton caught Adam Eaton’s line drive in right and his big arm forced Navarro to hold at third. Tyler Saladino then popped out, which brought up Cabrera. Cabrera struck out on a 2-2 pitch, but the ball got away from catcher J.T Realmuto and Cabrera raced to first. Instead of trying to make the play there, Realmuto threw home and would have nailed Navarro, but Barraclough couldn’t haul it in.
“It was crazy,” Navarro said. “We’re second and third with no outs and all of a sudden we’ve got two outs and I just was trying to get a good jump. I knew he was going to throw a breaking ball so I was hoping for one there and he did. If he would have caught it I would have been out, but he didn’t.
“We caught a break right there.”
Ditto for Shields courtesy of the offense’s best night since July 8 and six scoreless innings by the bullpen.
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Stanton started a stretch of loud contact off Shields when he homered to left center in the second inning to get the Marlins within 4-1. An inning later, Martin Prado blasted a game-tying, three-run homer on a 1-2 pitch by Shields with no outs. Realmuto’s two-out single in the third put Miami ahead 5-4.
Shields, who allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in three-plus innings, exited after he loaded the bases in the fourth. The right-hander has allowed 21 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
But Matt Albers pitched two scoreless frames and Dan Jennings recorded two outs. Chris Beck retired Stanton to end the sixth inning and delivered 1 1/3 scoreless for the first win of his career. Nate Jones struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning before David Robertson struck out one in the ninth to convert his 29th save in 35 tries.
The White Sox offense got off to another quick start.
But unlike Friday, when they slowed down considerably after scoring three times in the first two innings, the White Sox kept going.
Jose Abreu doubled in a run in the first inning and Navarro singled in another in the second. Saladino doubled in two more as the White Sox took a 4-0 lead on Conley. Coats’ first career homer tied the score at 5-all to start the fourth inning. Coats, who reached base three times, would also later steal the first base of his career.
Down 7-5, the White Sox scored once in the sixth inning on Eaton’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice. But Saladino grounded into an inning-ending double play as the White Sox trailed until the eighth.
That left the door open for Navarro’s not-so-fleet feet to provide some much-needed levity.
“The guys did a great job coming back and winning this ballgame,” Shields said. “The clubhouse is good right now, and I’m just glad things are starting to go our way a little bit.”