With Sammy Sosa at the plate and runners at the corners, Sean Lowe moved slightly toward third and then fired to first, catching Mark Grace off the bag.
Or was it?
"First and foremost, you cannot get picked off in that situation," Grace said. "But I think he got away with one."
It doesn't really matter. Lowe was credited with an out, not a balk on the key eighth-inning play. The inning was over, the rally was finished and the Chicago White Sox escaped with a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Comiskey Park.
Magglio Ordonez hit a two-run homer, and Carlos Lee and Herbert Perry drove in the other runs for the White Sox, who won their sixth in a row.
"It was a heck of a call," White Sox Manager Jerry Manuel said. "Sean Lowe led the league in pickoffs [with six] last year. He's got one of the best right-hand moves in the game."
The Cubs had closed to 4-3 in the eighth when Augie Ojeda scored on Grace's force-play grounder. Lowe tried his move to third once but Grace didn't bite.
So Lowe came right back and tried it again. This time, Grace got caught.
"The book says you have to step toward third. He did that," White Sox bench coach Joe Nossek said. "It was legitimate. If they say he didn't, it might be frustration on their part."
The Cubs brought a three-game winning streak to the South Side but are one game away from being swept for the second time in as many years by their cross-town rivals. The White Sox took all three at Wrigley Field last year.
Sosa, who had a much-publicized blowup with Cub Manager Don Baylor last week, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
He has struck out eight times in the series.
Florida 5, Tampa Bay 1--Reid Cornelius took a no-hitter into the seventh and Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo homered at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Greg Vaughn broke up Cornelius' no-hit bid, lining an 0-and-1 pitch to left field for a single leading off the seventh.
Cornelius (1-1) lost his shutout in the eighth when Felix Martinez tripled with one out and scored when Gerald Williams grounded out. The Marlin right-hander gave up three hits, walked three and threw three wild pitches in eight innings.
Detroit 10, St. Louis 1--Damion Easley, Brad Ausmus and Dean Palmer hit home runs to back Brian Moehler at Detroit.
Mark McGwire, who has one homer since May 24, went two for four and had his first stolen in nearly two years. J.D. Drew homered for the Cardinals.
Moehler (3-3) gave up one run and five hits with one walk and four strikeouts in seven innings.
Montreal 11, Toronto 2--Rookie Tony Armas Jr. gave up four hits in seven innings and Vladimir Guerrero homered for the Expos at Toronto.
The Expos ended their three-game losing streak and improved to 5-10 against their Canadian rivals.
Armas, traded from the Boston Red Sox along with Carl Pavano in the deal for Pedro Martinez in 1997, won his second consecutive start.
Armas (2-3) has a 2.29 earned-run average since being promoted from triple A on May 13. The 22-year-old son of former big league outfielder Tony Armas gave up one run.
He struck out three and walked two.
Seattle 5, San Francisco 2--Paul Abbott pitched 7 2/3 strong innings and doubled in his first major league at-bat, and Rickey Henderson homered for the Mariners at San Francisco.
Abbott (3-2) gave up one run and four hits while striking out four and walking one, helping the Mariners win in San Francisco for the second time in seven games. He also scored on a bases-loaded groundout after doubling in the third.
Baltimore 11, Philadelphia 4--Albert Belle homered and drove in four runs and Sidney Ponson pitched eight strong innings as the Orioles beat Curt Schilling at Baltimore.
Cal Ripken homered and drove in three runs for the Orioles, who won for the second time in 10 games. Ripken went three for four to boost his batting average to .261, his highest since April 26.
Led by Ripken, Baltimore led, 7-1, after five innings and chased Schilling in the sixth. Belle had three hits in extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
Milwaukee 5, Minnesota 3--Jimmy Haynes won his fourth consecutive road start and Marquis Grissom homered at Minneapolis as the Brewers ended a five-game losing streak.
Matthew LeCroy and Cristian Guzman homered for the Twins, who had won three in a row.
Haynes (7-4) gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings to improve to 5-1 on the road this season. He struck out one and did not walk a batter as Milwaukee won for the first time in five interleague games.
Atlanta 6, Boston 0--Terry Mulholland pitched five shutout innings despite a strained hamstring as the Braves made it two in a row over the Red Sox at Atlanta.
The Braves broke open the game with four runs in the fourth, including Andres Galarraga's 17th homer and a two-run triple by Walt Weiss.
Colorado 12, Texas 6--Larry Walker hit a three-run homer for his first home run since coming off the disabled list Friday as the Rockies romped at Denver for their seventh consecutive home victory.
Kansas City 2, Pittsburgh 1--Mac Suzuki came within one out of his first shutout before Mike Sweeney won the game for the Royals with an RBI single in the 12th inning at Kansas City, Mo.
Cleveland 6, Cincinnati 5--Travis Fryman's second homer of the game triggered a three-homer barrage by the Indians in the sixth inning at Cleveland.
Fryman's leadoff homer against Steve Parris (2-9) was followed by one from Russell Branyan as the Indians tied the score at 5-5. Kenny Lofton homered with two out as Cleveland won for the seventh time in eight games.
Dave Burba (7-1) won his sixth consecutive decision, giving up five runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander hasn't lost in 10 starts.