Chicago With A.J. Pierzynski at the plate, anything can happen and often does.
The White Sox catcher was hit by a pitch from Roberto Hernandez with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Thursday, sending Chicago to a 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
"I'm lucky I didn't swing at it. I almost did," Pierzynski said. "He wasn't trying to hit me and I wasn't trying to get hit. It just looked like it got away from him. He threw a cutter and luckily for us it worked out."
Pierzynski's shrewd play at the plate during the 2005 AL championship series started a key rally for the White Sox when he ran to first base on a pitch that was ruled a dropped third strike.
On Thursday, he said Hernandez's pitch caught him near the back of his left arm.
"I have to make sure to not go so far in," Hernandez said.
Did Pierzynski make enough of an effort to get out of the way?
"Ask him. Ask him. I've played enough against him. That ball wasn't that close," Hernandez said. "But game on the line, bases loaded, free way to get a win."
Chicago got its first victory of the season on a day when starter Mark Buehrle was forced out in the second inning when he was hit in the left forearm by Ryan Garko's line drive. X-rays were negative, and Buehrle said hopes to take his next turn.
"It just went numb. I didn't know if anything really happened until I looked down and it kind of balled up," Buehrle said. "My heart kind of stopped because I thought it was broken at first. I've never seen anything like that happen."
Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede hit back-to-back singles off Hernandez (0-1) to open the ninth. Hernandez then made a low pickoff attempt at second for an error, with pinch-runner Rob Mackowiak and Crede moving up.
"I probably should have held it," Hernandez said.
After the error, Tadahito Iguchi was walked intentionally to load the bases before Hernandez grazed Pierzynski with the pitch.
Athletics 4, Angels 3
Anaheim, Calif. - Mike Piazza hit his first home run as a full-time designated hitter, connecting against Francisco Rodriguez with two outs in the ninth inning to lift Oakland over Los Angeles.
Piazza, who has hit the most home runs as a catcher in major-league history, drove a 1-1 pitch just to the right of dead center field for his first homer in 22 career at-bats at Angel Stadium.
Devil Rays 7, Yankees 6
New York - Alex Rodriguez flopped in another key at-bat, and Tampa Bay spoiled Andy Pettitte's return to New York .
Elijah Dukes hit his second homer in two major league games, and Tampa Bay took advantage of some sloppy defense by the Yankees on a snowy night in New York. The Devil Rays took the lead in the eighth inning on a wild pitch and held on for only their fourth road victory since July 1.
On a windy, 38-degree night with light snow flurries occasionally blowing around, the Yankees had three errors, three wild pitches and a passed ball.
Rodriguez had a chance to nullify all that, but he popped out against Brian Stokes with the bases loaded to end the eighth.