NEW YORK -- Had it not been for the fast feet of Alex Rios on Tuesday, the struggling White Sox may have experienced something they hadn’t in 104 years.
Fortunately for the South Siders, Rios broke up a perfect game bid by the New York Mets’ Matt Harvey in the seventh inning with an infield single.
But while the outfielder’s hustle helped the White Sox avoid the first perfecto by an opposing pitcher since 1908, it couldn’t help the team overcome another close-contested, wrought-with-frustration loss.
Mike Baxter delivered the latest round as his pinch-hit, RBI single in the 10th off Nate Jones led the Mets to a 1-0 win over the White Sox in front of 23,394 at Citi Field. Chicago was one-hit over 10 innings and struck out 14 times as they spoiled a strong hometown start for Hector Santiago.
“We’re going to face good pitching and we just can’t have any excuses,” said Rios, the White Sox only base runner in 10 innings. “We have to go out there and do our best and grind every night like we’ve been doing.”
Harvey didn’t make it easy.
He overpowered White Sox hitters for nine innings with a career-high 12 strikeouts before he handed it off to his bullpen. Bobby Parnell (3-0) struck out two more in the 10th to setup Baxter’s heroics against Jones (0-3).
Harvey’s dominance included a 20-out march for perfection that ended with two outs in the seventh inning when Rios just beat a throw by New York shortstop Ruben Tejada from deep in the hole. The White Sox were last on the losing end of a perfect game on Oct. 2, 1908 against Cleveland Naps pitcher Addie Joss.
But Harvey didn’t slow down there as he continued to mow down the White Sox efficiently with four above-average pitches.
The right-hander rarely reached a three-ball count and needed only 105 pitches -- 76 were strikes -- to complete nine innings. He and Parnell combined for the third shutout of the White Sox this season and it was the 16 th time in 31 games they’ve scored three or fewer runs.
“He has pretty much dominant stuff as much as anybody we’ve seen,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Kind of the (Justin) Verlander stuff. It’s velocity, it’s movement, just presence, everything. He had it all. He was impressive.”
Santiago wasn’t too shabby, either.
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Although he had to escape a pair of early jams, Santiago equaled his counterpart in effectiveness. Pitching in front of perhaps more than 100 friends and family from nearby Newark, N.J., Santiago was dominant in only his second start of 2013.
After he put four men on in the first two innings, the left-hander retired 16 of the last 19 batters he faced. Seven of Santiago’s eight strikeouts came over his final four innings as he matched zeroes with Harvey and continued to give the White Sox an opportunity to break through.
“Hector did a great job just staying with him, but you’re going to have to scratch something together to win, even against guys like that have nights like that,” Ventura said. “You have to grind it out and get something.”
Santiago allowed four hits, walked two and hit a batter in seven scoreless innings. He said early on he was amped up pitching against the team he grew up rooting for but eventually settled down. Ventura thought Santiago’s stuff improved as he tired, which led to the late run of strikeouts.
“I got settled in and just felt my groove and found the arm slot and just found where I was on line and just going right after guys like I should have been from the first,” Santiago said. “Definitely a little amped up for the first two innings.”