ST. PETERSBURG—The White Sox unexpectedly lost their starting pitcher in the fourth inning, and then went on to win their eighth straight game. Alexei Ramirez drove in two runs and the White Sox extended their season-best winning streak with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. Jose Quintana was ejected by plate umpire Mark Wegner with two outs in the fourth when he threw a pitch behind Ben Zobrist at knee level. Robin Ventura was also tossed by Wegner for arguing.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Ventura said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I was shocked. Usually if the guy feels it [had] intent, he gives warning and it goes from there, but it just shocked me.”
Quintana, through a translator, said he was not throwing at Zobrist.
“I was going to throw a fastball, but A.J. [Pierzynski] asked him for a changeup and instead of crossing him over, I went through and it just slipped away,” Quintana said.
Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb (2-1) hit a pair of White Sox batters – Gordon Beckham during the first and Pierzynski in the third — during the game. Pierzynski was hit with a man on second and one out.
“I was just trying to get a fastball in, and yanked it a little bit,” Cobb said of the pitch that struck Pierzynski.
Pierzynski had made what Rays manager Joe Maddon called an awkward slide involving Zobrist in Tuesday night’s game.
“I didn’t ask for anything right there,” Maddon said.
Maddon said Wegner handled the situation well.
“When a pitcher throws behind somebody like that, it’s pretty obvious what their intent was regardless of the denials on the other side,” Maddon said. “I thought the home plate umpire did a great job, actually. That really stopped everything in its tracks.”
Dayan Viciedo had a run-scoring single and Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to help take a 3-1 lead in the third. Ramirez made it 4-1 with an RBI double in the fifth. Luke Scott and Carlos Pena homered for the Rays, who have lost nine of their last 13 games at home. Addison Reed worked out of trouble in the ninth for his sixth save. Pena drew a leadoff walk, with pinch-runner Rich Thompson advancing to second on Matt Joyce’s one-out single. Zobrist and Scott then both popped out to shallow left.Pena hit a two-run homer off Nate Jones (3-0) in the sixth. Alex Rios hit a first-inning RBI single. Tampa Bay tied it at 1 on Scott’s opposite-field homer to left in the second. Cobb worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second. After Alejandro De Aza hit a grounder and Beckham struck out, Adam Dunn hit a fly to center that B.J. Upton caught on the warning track. Quintana allowed one run and one hit in 3 2/3 innings. Cobb gave up four runs and nine hits over five innings.De Aza left in the sixth when he was hit near the right knee by the ball while diving back to second on J.P. Howell’s pick off attempt.
NOTES—Tampa Bay DH-LF Hideki Matsui was out of the lineup one day after homering in his Rays’ debut. He entered in the sixth and went 0 for 2…..Matsui will earn $615,519 from his contract with the Rays if he stays on the 40-man roster for the rest of the season. Matsui was put on the 40-man roster Tuesday,meaning he will earn 128 days of major league pay from the 183-day season. His contract lists an $880,000 salary while in the majors and a $250,000 salary while in the minors…..John Danks (strained left shoulder) threw at 60 feet on level ground and could rejoin the rotation early next week…..Brent Morel (lower back strain) is set to start a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte.