CHICAGO -- Scott Podsednik is making a nice run at the AL Comeback Player of the Year award and he might be a most unlikely team MVP.
Picked up off the scrap heap in April, Podsednik on Tuesday night delivered his third game-ending hit this season. His RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the Chicago White Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
"I don't think this ballclub would be fighting for the pennant without Pods," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This kid put an injection in this ballclub. He's gotten huge hits. He's been great for us."
Podsednik, who became an instant White Sox favorite when his ninth-inning homer won Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, is happy to be in the majors at all.
Chicago cut him after an injury-filled 2007 and he struggled the following year with Colorado, which waived him before this season. Podsednik was sitting around doing nothing when the White Sox, desperate for a leadoff hitter, called.
The speedy 33-year-old is batting .303 and, after filling in superbly for injured left fielder Carlos Quentin, has solidified what had been an iffy center-field position.
"I had a couple of off years in '07 and '08 and then kind of disappeared at the beginning of this season," Podsednik said, "so it's nice to get the opportunity to come here and play and take advantage of it."
After Kevin Jepsen (3-3) retired the ninth inning's first two batters, he allowed Jayson Nix's double. Podsednik followed with a line drive to right-center field and was mobbed by his teammates as Nix scored.
"My slider's been working good," Jepsen said. "If I throw the same pitch in a better location, it's a pop-up or a groundball. Instead, it didn't end up where I wanted and ... game over."
Matt Thornton (6-2), the fourth reliever to pitch effectively after wild-throwing White Sox starter Jose Contreras lasted only 2 2/3 innings, got the win as Chicago pulled within a game of Detroit in the AL Central.
Before beating the Angels, the White Sox had taken three of four from the New York Yankees. Each team had the AL's best record at the time.
"It shows our caliber of play," said D.J. Carrasco, who kept Chicago in the game with four innings of two-hit, one-run relief. "If we get to the playoffs, these are the types of teams we expect to play."
The Angels entered with a five-game winning streak and with victories in their last eight road games. They had won 16 of 19 on the road and 34 of 45 overall.
John Lackey gave up early home runs to Gordon Beckham and Quentin but went on to allow only three earned runs and five hits in eight innings. Still, he remained 3-5 lifetime against the White Sox.
"I just need to find a little luck in this place," Lackey said. "I've thrown the ball good here a few times, but I haven't gotten much out of it."
After a pregame ceremony in which the White Sox honored Mark Buehrle for his July 23 perfect game, Contreras was anything but perfect in blowing an early 2-0 lead.
He walked five batters and allowed three third-inning runs after walking the bases loaded. Two runs scored on Bobby Abreu's single and the other on a wild pitch. Since a six-start stretch in which his command was exceptional and he had a 2.06 ERA, Contreras is 0-3 in four outings with 15 walks and a 6.52 ERA.
Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly tied it in Chicago's third before Abreu, who has an AL-high 55 RBIs since June 1, gave the Angels a 4-3 lead with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly.
The White Sox pulled even in the seventh when Podsednik's two-out bunt attempt resulted in a pop-up over the infield that landed just inside the left-field foul line for a fortuitous double. Beckham followed with an RBI single. Those were the only hits Lackey allowed in his final 5 2/3 innings.
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