CHICAGO (AP) — DeWayne Wise has had to earn every bit of playing time.

Now his leaping catch to save Chicago White Sox teammate Mark Buehrle’s perfect game has earned him a spot in history.

The 31-year-old journeyman, who never has spent a full season in the majors, robbed Tampa Bay’s Gabe Kabler of a home run in the ninth inning of Chicago’s 5-0 victory Thursday over the Rays.

“I knew I had a shot,” Wise said. “It’s probably the best catch I ever made.”

Given the magnitude of the situation, there’s no probably about it.

After Wise made his acrobatic grab for the first out of the ninth inning, Buehrle struck out Michel Hernandez and retired Jason Bartlett on a grounder to finish the 18th perfect game in major league history.

“I said to myself that it would come down to me having to make a play,” Wise said. “It seems like every time you come into a game late, the ball finds you.”

Wise was inserted just before the ninth inning, with manager Ozzie Guillen moving Scott Podsednik from center to left and taking out slow-footed Carlos Quentin.

After Kapler swung at the 2-2 pitch and the baseball took flight, catcher Ramon Castro – working with Buehrle for the first time ever – slammed his glove on his leg in disgust.

“Oh my God,” Castro said, when asked later what he was thinking. “No way he’s catching that ball.”

Said Wise: “I knew it was going to be one of those balls where I either had to jump up and rob it or I had to run through the wall.

“I just told myself: ‘I’ve got to do whatever it takes to catch this ball.'”

With Wise running hard, he and the baseball reached the left-center-field wall almost simultaneously. Wise jumped and extended his right arm above an artist’s rendering of Billy Pierce, one of only seven pitchers in team history with more victories than Buehrle’s 133.

“I didn’t realize I had caught it until I fell down and the ball was coming out of my glove, so I reached out and grabbed it,” Wise said.

And just like that, a center fielder who often has been booed by the fans because of his offensive shortcomings claimed a place of honor in White Sox lore.

“I was thinking that it wouldn’t be close to a homer but that (Kapler) broke up the perfect game. I thought it would be a double,” White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “Then it just hung up there and carried more than I thought and gave DeWayne time to track it down.

“All things considered, that’s got to be the play of the year because of what was on the line.”


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