CHICAGO -- If the White Sox do indeed reach the 2012 postseason, then they probably want to circle back to Friday's 8-6 victory over the Angels in 10 innings for a prominent moment in the year-in-review highlight video.
There was Alex Rios, with pinch-runner Jordan Danks on second and one out, connecting on a 1-2 pitch from David Carpenter for a walk-off two-run shot that barely eluded the leaping effort of center fielder Mike Trout. And if Trout, baseball's newest superhero, can't make the catch, then things have to be working in the South Siders' favor.
The third game-ending homer of Rios' career and fifth multi-homer effort, after he went deep in the sixth off Zack Greinke, pushed the White Sox (58-47) to 11 games over .500 for the first time. They improved to 8-2 since the Tigers swept three at Comerica Park and raised their record to 11-1 during the last 12 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Rios started the Elvis Night fireworks early for the 32,060 in attendance, keeping the White Sox 2 1/2 games ahead of the Tigers in the American League Central and adding another bullet point to his Comeback Player of the Year resume.
"To see Alex hit that, to see the look on his face," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, "it was awesome."
"We won the game. That's the most important thing," Rios said. "We battled. They came back, but we stayed together and we came back."
This 10th-inning rally actually began with an Adam Dunn checked-swing infield single against Hisanori Takahashi (0-3). Dunn used his legs on the slow roller fielded by third baseman Alberto Callaspo at shortstop because of the defensive shift to set up Rios' deciding power stroke.
Rios pumped his fist in the air as the 407-foot drive cleared Trout by a couple of rows.
"When you hit the ball that close to the wall, you always have that in the back of your head that they're going to make a good play on you," Rios said. "I hit it hard enough so he couldn't reach it."
"For him to bounce back, I couldn't be happier for a guy," Pierzynski said. "Alex is a good guy, he means well and he really does want to do well. Alex cares sometimes almost too much. It's nice to see him get the results he deserves."
Pierzynski's three-run homer in the first off Greinke, who gave up more runs to the White Sox in four hitters Friday than he did over nine scoreless innings while pitching for Milwaukee in Chicago on June 22, sparked a four-run frame and set a single-season career high for the catcher at 19. That inning included a collision of the titans at home plate on Rios' run-scoring single, with left fielder Mark Trumbo's throw to catcher Chris Iannetta nailing Dunn, as Iannetta survived a shoulder-to-shoulder crash with the White Sox slugger.
"They had a lot of good at-bats and Rios is swinging the bat really good," Greinke said. "Going in, I knew he was going to be a tough out."
Rios' hit came after Paul Konerko's grounder to Callaspo with the bases loaded and nobody out turned into a force out at the plate. Iannetta's ensuing throw to first pulled Albert Pujols off the bag to keep the bases loaded with one out.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued that Konerko ran inside the baseline during his final 45 feet to first and should have been ruled out for interference. The umpires conferred twice before leaving the runners as they were. At that point, Scioscia played the game under protest.
"What took place there was a play at home and the catcher came out and threw to first," crew chief Dana DeMuth told a pool reporter. "[Iannetta] threw wild. Konerko going down to first was no way interfering with the play at first."
Scioscia's crew quickly chipped away at Philip Humber, who has not won over his last 15 starts at U.S. Cellular Field, and took the lead with two in the second on Trout's homer and two more in the third. Pujols' solo homer in the sixth gave the Angels (57-50) a 6-4 edge.
Humber exited after Pujols' blast, allowing six runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings with four walks and one strikeout.
"I'm just happy we won the game. That's a tremendous job by our team," said Humber, who threw 109 pitches. "I'm obviously not happy with my results tonight but it's a lot easier to swallow when you win."
Alejandro De Aza, who has 10 hits in his last 18 at-bats, doubled home the tying run in the seventh. But it was defense that gave the White Sox a chance to rally, especially after reliever Nate Jones put the first two runners on in the seventh.
Howie Kendrick then grounded one toward right field, but second baseman Gordon Beckham got to the grounder, spun and fired a strike to Alexei Ramirez, who then completed the double play. The Angels didn't score in the inning and stranded two in the eighth and two in the 10th when Pujols bounced back to Matt Thornton (4-6) for the final out.
It became Rios' turn to continue his special individual season and an even greater season to date for the team.
"He's just played great for us," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "It's a big win. It happened to the right guy."
"I just want to keep doing what I'm doing," Rios said. "Focus on having good at-bats and winning games."