CHICAGO - Jerome Williams saw the ball jump off the bat of Alex Rios and just knew it was headed for the seats in left field.
That, however, is not what happened in the third inning of a tight 3-2 victory by Williams's Los Angeles Angels on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Rather than clearing the wall in left center and setting off the fireworks that accompany every Chicago White Sox home run hit here, the ball wound up in the mitt of left fielder Mark Trumbo -- whose arm was fully extended near the top of the wall. Instead of the White Sox tying it 3-3, the Angels kept their slim one-run lead and then made it stand up as the final score six innings later.
"I thought it was way gone, but the wind knocked it down and kept it in the ballpark," said Williams (2-1), who picked up the win by allowing just runs on five hits through six innings. "From that point on, I was upset. I just wanted to go back out there and put up another (zero in the fourth)."
Williams, who's in the rotation because of injuries, did something even better. He threw three more scoreless innings before handing the one-run lead over to the bullpen.
One night after four Angels relievers combined to throw 5 2/3 scoreless innings for another close win, they needed a solid outing from Williams. They got it, and a trio of relievers slammed the door shut on the Sox for a second straight game.
Scott Downs, Garrett Richards, and closer Ernesto Frieri were up to the task and Los Angeles has now gotten eight straight scoreless innings of relief in the first two games of this series. It's a welcome sight for the Angels (14-22), who started the day fourth in the American League West, nine games behind first-place Texas.
"I think the one thing you can point to is our bullpen," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our bullpen has really responded to the challenge of getting outs that we need. Last night we had five innings. Tonight Jerome pitched a great game, got us deep into the game and from Scott Downs to Garrett and then (Frieri), we were able to line some guys up and they threw the ball well. It's an important part of our club."
Star outfielder Mike Trout is pretty important, too, and he had another good game at the plate against the White Sox -- a team he was hitting .324 against in 34 career at-bats. Trout went 2 for 4 and smacked a two-run home run in the first inning that spotted Los Angeles a quick 2-0 lead.
Dayan Viciedo went 3 for 3 and scored one of the runs for the White Sox (14-20), who plated both runs in the second off five singles but also had Jeff Keppinger thrown out at the plate by Josh Hamilton to end the inning with the score tied 2-2.
Chicago, sitting last in the AL Central, has dropped two straight and five of its past seven games. The Sox are also experiencing big issues defensively, which is something they didn't have to worry about while leading the AL in fielding percentage (.988) a year ago.
After committing three errors in this game, they upped their total to 27 through 34 games. The key mistakes came in the third, when the Angels scratched out the winning run off a throwing error and passed ball.
Second baseman Tyler Greene committed the throwing error on a routine grounder by Hamilton, which allowed Albert Pujols to go first to third -- where he scored on the passed ball by catcher Tyler Flowers.
Prior to the game, Ventura held a meeting with his team.
"Stuff just needed to be said," Ventura said. "It was just at a point where I needed to say some stuff and I did."
He seemed particularly annoyed that another solid start went by the wayside for Jose Quintana, who kept his team in the game after allowing the homer by Trout. Quintana went six innings, threw a career-high 117 pitches and allowed all three runs -- only two earned.
"You just can't do it," Ventura said of the costly errors. "After the early homer, (Quintana) just has guts and battled his way through. They had some guys on and he did well enough to keep us in it and give us a chance. Playing-wise, we aren't helping him. We were putting him in a tough bind and he ended up losing the game because of it."
NOTES: White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie was scratched from the starting lineup with upper-respiratory infection. ... Keppinger, hitting .191 before the game, was bumped down in the order to the seventh spot. "It's more just mixing it up," Ventura said. "Sometimes there's big deals made about it. Sometimes you put pressure on yourself and sometimes you can take it off. You know what the track record is. You're just trying to get it out of him." ... White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham reported no issues in his left hand after taking 100 swings off a tee for the second straight day. Beckham is recovering from surgery to remove a fractured bone in the hand. ... The Angels sent outfielder Scott Cousins to Triple-A Salt Lake and called up right-handed reliever Robert Coello to add another arm to the beleaguered bullpen. ... Pujols is dealing with soreness in his knee and foot, which is exacerbated by the cold weather in Chicago. "He's trying to plow through some stuff and hopefully he'll be able to," Scioscia said. "There's no doubt (the knee and foot) are both impacted." ... Reliever Ryan Madson (Tommy John surgery) threw one inning during an extended spring training game in Arizona and showed good velocity. His next outing likely will come Monday with Class A Inland Empire of the California League.
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