With chance to win pitcher's duel, White Sox bullpen falters again

With chance to win pitcher's duel, White Sox bullpen falters again
July 5, 2014, 6:00 pm
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The White Sox blew a ninth-inning lead, and five frames later it came back to cost them.

Brad Miller's 14th-inning double off Ronald Belisario doomed the White Sox to a 3-2 loss in front of 23,133 fans Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field in a game that featured an outstanding pitcher's duel early on and some feeble offense in extra innings.

With the White Sox leading 2-0 heading into the ninth, Seattle mounted a rally as Robinson Cano drew a leadoff walk off Eric Surkamp and Corey Hart singled off Zach Putnam to begin the inning. Cano came around to score on Mike Zunino's sacrifice fly, and Logan Morrison followed with a single to put the tying run on third with two out.

Michael Saunders followed with a sharp single to right to tie the game at 2. Only Saunders' single was hit particularly hard, but that doesn't change the result.

Putnam became the sixth White Sox reliever to blow a save this season, and the White Sox have 11 total blown saves in 2014.

"I don't think the ninth should be any different for a reliever than any other inning," Putnam said. "You've got to go out there and do your job and get outs. Today I made some pitches, a couple mistakes, but I got a few groundballs and there's days when those groundballs turn into outs and there's days when they're hits and runs are scored. Today was one of those days, so you have to bounce back."

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Outside of the Mariners unsuccessfully loading the bases in the 10th, both teams played to an offensive stalemate in extra innings. It wasn't until Saunders singled and Miller doubled in the 14th — Belisario's third inning of work — that either team did anything worthwhile offensively.

The White Sox only mustered one hit — their fourth of the game — off the Mariners in extra innings, a 12th-inning bloop single by Leury Garcia, who entered the game in the ninth as a pinch runner for Jose Abreu.

"When you play 14 innings and only get four hits obviously they're doing something right," second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "Long day."

Neither side had much offensive success until the eighth, with Jose Quintana tying a season high with 10 strikeouts and allowing only four hits and one walk over 7 2/3 shutout innings. Mariners ace Felix Hernandez fired eight innings of two-run ball, limiting the White Sox to three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Through seven scoreless innings, Quintana and Hernandez combined to allow five base runners (four hits, one walk) with 16 strikeouts.

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After Quintana and Jake Petricka worked out of a jam in the top of the eighth, The White Sox swiftly pounced on Hernandez on the bottom of the frame. Conor Gillaspie led off with a triple and scored on Dayan Viciedo's first-pitch double, and Moises Sierra — pinch-running for Viciedo — came around to score on Tyler Flowers' sacrifice fly.

Ventura pulled Petricka for Surkamp in the ninth, hoping a lefty-lefty matchup against Cano would work before turning the ball over to Putnam, who entered Saturday with a 2.20 ERA. Ventura said the White Sox don't have a set closer right now and are waiting for someone to step up and take hold of that role with Matt Lindstrom and Nate Jones on the disabled list for the foreseeable future.

"We just didn't get it done," Ventura said. "Right now we're at the point where we're using different people in that spot, and every once in a while, those guys are going to give up runs. And when (they do), it's going to look like a blown save, but we're rotating around guys until somebody really emerges."