BALTIMORE — Robin Ventura knows exactly how White Sox team can snap out of this funk they’re in.
He laid out a simple plan after the White Sox suffered another devastating 6-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Chris Davis’ three-run walk-off home run.
Closer Ronald Belisario allowed the pinch-hit homer as the White Sox lost their fifth straight to open this 11-game road trip. Lost in defeat were a staunch effort by Chris Sale and a home run and three RBIs from Jose Abreu as the White fell to a season-worst seven games below .500.
“Baseball’s tough,” Ventura said. “You’ve got to put your big-boy pants on and go out there and win a game. That’s a fact.”
Sale wore his, or he wouldn’t have been in line for a victory after allowing a career-high 11 hits over six innings.
But the win vanished into thin air after Belisario blew his third save in 10 tries since taking over as the team’s closer (he also was credited with a blown save in the seventh inning of an April 9 loss in Denver).
With the Orioles down 4-3, Steve Pearce singled to start the ninth inning. Belisario hit Adam Jones, whose two-run homer in the first inning off Sale put the Orioles ahead 2-0. The White Sox closer struck out Nelson Cruz and got ahead of Davis 1-2 in the count. But Davis worked the count full and clobbered a slider over the middle for a three-run homer to right.
All five White Sox losses have come by two runs or less, and it’s the second time in four days Belisario allowed the game-winning hit.
“Was trying to throw outside, but I made a mistake,” Belisario said. “For me it's tough you know. I have to get my job done, but I mean, things happen, you know. Not lucky tonight. Nothing else I can do.”
“Base hit and hit by pitch, what can I say. I made a mistake ... I lost the game.”
Abreu and Sale had the White Sox in position to win.
Trailing 2-0, Abreu followed an Adam Eaton single and Gordon Beckham double with an RBI groundout in the third inning. Three innings later, Abreu tied it at 2 with a solo homer, his 22nd, off Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen.
Dayan Viciedo then doubled and scored on Conor Gillaspie’s two-out double to left.
Abreu, who leads the majors with three or more RBIs in nine games, drove in his third run with a double in the seventh that put the White Sox ahead 4-2. The White Sox dropped to 7-2 in games in which Abreu has at least three RBIs, the only other loss coming on April 3.
“Tough times are part of this,” Abreu said through a team translator. “I think we have to play together. We have to play united. Tough times are going to be there. That’s part of the game. That’s part of the spectacle. That’s part of everything you do in baseball. To be able to get out, you have to be able to pull it together though.”
Sale still believes that possibility exists for the White Sox, that they can rebound from this spell in which they have lost 12 of 16 games.
Perhaps they can if they follow his lead.
Even though Sale was all over the place, he stranded nine base runners over six innings. Sale struck out Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy with two on in the third. He got Pearce to fly out and struck out Jones in the fourth with the bases loaded.
In the fifth, Manny Machado grounded into a force at the plate with the bases loaded, and Jonathan Schoop grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Caleb Joseph — who hit a solo homer off Zach Putnam in the eighth — started the sixth inning with a single but was erased when Sale got Nick Markakis to ground into a double play.
“It’s a long season,” Sale said. “You go through ups and downs, and obviously it’s fair to say this is one of those downs. But just as quickly as we got to this point, we can get out of this and turn things around and get going in the right direction.”
That’s where those big-boy pants come in.
Ventura told Sale he pitched like Houdini. The third-year manager said his team had no business taking a lead into the ninth inning. But there they were, and there it went.
“You’ve got to be able to close it out,” Ventura said. “It’s not easy. You’ve got a guy like Chris on their bench. You let them get on. You hit somebody. One thing leads to another, and it becomes a tough loss. You’ve got to be able to bounce back and keep going.”