CHICAGO (— The steady stream of praise for Armando Galarraga came from all over during the past week, with teammates, opponents and fans hailing his all-but-perfect performance.
Even Hugo Chavez had some kind words.
The Venezuelan president congratulated his countryman, said he once dreamed of being a major leaguer and even told Galarraga: “I'm proud of what you do.”
Nearly perfect in his previous outing, Galarraga was far from it this time.
He was long gone when Brennan Boesch and Carlos Guillen hit back-to-back homers in a six-run seventh to lift the Detroit Tigers to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
The centerpiece of a national story when a blown call against Cleveland last week spoiled a perfect game, Galarraga had a relatively uneventful night. He gave up a leadoff single to Juan Pierre in the first after being cheered on his way to the mound and allowed two runs and seven hits while throwing 104 pitches in five innings.
The past week, he said, has been “very crazy.” Now, he's being held up as a positive role model.
“It's nice,” he said. “Everybody has to follow somebody. When I was younger, I see all the big-league pitchers. I was like, 'Oh my god, I want to be that guy.' If you can show little kids something you can do right, they're going to follow more.”
Mark Kotsay hit a two-run homer off Galarraga in the fourth, but the Tigers got an RBI single from Guillen against Gavin Floyd in the sixth to pull to 2-1. Then, they knocked around Matt Thornton and Scott Linebrink to get the win after dropping two of three at Kansas City over the weekend.
The Tigers had runners on first and second with one out when Ryan Raburn drove a double to right off Thornton. Gordon Beckham took the cutoff from Carlos Quentin and threw wildly trying to get Raburn at second, allowing Johnny Damon to score the go-ahead run.
Thornton (2-3), who has been scored on in three straight outings, intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera. Boesch then drove his sixth homer over the center-field wall after striking out in his first three at-bats, making it 6-2, and Guillen knocked his third out to right off Linebrink to make it a five-run game.
That made a winner of Brad Thomas (3-0), who pitched two scoreless innings.
Floyd, who has been anything but perfect this season, allowed six hits in six innings while striking out a season-high eight and walking two. But it was more of the same for the struggling White Sox.
“Everyone's tried everything,” A.J. Pierzynski said. “Doing everything. Things just aren't working out.”
Galarraga was less than spectacular coming off a performance that turned him into an instant celebrity. Who will forget that?
“I think he was kind of a little bit star-struck, to be honest with you,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought he came out of it very well. We can move past it now. It'll be a great story forever. I've said this 1,000 times — he'll probably be remembered more for the not-perfect game than he would have been if it was a perfect game.”
It would have been the 21st perfect game overall and third in the majors this season.
Then, in a flash, he was simply smiling at his misfortune and heading back to the mound after first-base umpire Jim Joyce emphatically called the Indians' Jason Donald safe even though replays showed he was clearly out.
What happened after that made it even more memorable.
Galarraga, who was covering first base, refused to lash out at the umpire, and a devastated Joyce apologized to the pitcher in person.
Then came an outpouring of support for both player and umpire, not to mention calls to expand the use of instant replay.
After this one, Galarraga got a text message from a friend.
“He said, 'Here we go, this is the Armando I know,'” Galarraga said.
NOTES: Leyland said Ordonez told him he didn't want to risk pulling his oblique so he sat out. ... White Sox analyst Ken “Hawk” Harrelson was honored for his nearly 25 years in the White Sox television booth during a pregame ceremony in which he received a crystal microphone. The team announced it will name the broadcast level at U.S. Cellular Field the “Hawk Harrelson Broadcast Level” and place a plaque commemorating his contributions to the organization outside the television and radio broadcast booths. “The more I think about it, the more emotional I get,” Harrelson said.
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