(Cleveland) - Jason Giambi still had the chills long after he shook Progressive Field.
Giambi hit a pinch-hit home run leading off the ninth inning, a towering shot over the center field wall that sent the Cleveland Indians to their fifth straight win, 3-2 over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
Batting for Mark Reynolds, Giambi belted a 1-1 pitch from Ramon Troncoso (1-3) into the bushes beyond the fence. It was the 436th career homer and ninth career walk-off shot for the popular 42-year-old slugger, who had a bucket of ice water dumped over his head by teammates.
"I might catch pneumonia," he joked. "I'm a little old to be dunked with water. I love it. I've been preaching all year one guy is not more important than another and it's going to take all 25 of us, even more than that, to win ballgames and we've done it all year. It's just exciting to be a part of it."
According to STATS, Giambi is the oldest player in major league history to hit a walk-off homer, surpassing Hank Aaron, who was 45 days younger than Giambi when he did it in 1976. Closer Chris Perez (3-1) pitched the ninth, allowing a two-out triple to Dayan Viciedo but stranded the go-ahead run when left fielder Michael Brantley made a sensational, running catch for the third out.
With their 10th win in 14 games, the Indians moved within 2 1-2 games of the idle Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central.
The sinking White Sox have lost four straight and 10 of 13.
Giambi's dramatic shot — and postgame bath — provided more memorable snapshots for the Indians, who are making a strong push as August approaches. Cleveland is keeping the pressure on the Tigers as well as injecting themselves into the wild-card discussion.
As he rounded third, Giambi smiled when he saw his teammates awaiting his arrival at the plate. He leaped into their welcome-home party and nearly had his jersey pulled off in the celebration.
"That's what keeps you coming back," Giambi said. "There's no moment more special than when you get that embrace from your teammates and all those smiles. It's exciting."
Listen to Tom Hamilton's dramatic call:
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(Copyright © 2013 by the Associated Press, all rights reserved. Photos by Jason Miller/Getty Images.)