OAKLAND — The White Sox finally broke through late Monday night.
Unfortunately for them the hole they were in was a tad too steep.
Mostly shut down for eight innings, the White Sox rallied for three ninth-inning runs but stranded the tying run in scoring position in a 5-4 loss to the Oakland A’s at O.co Coliseum.
Oakland starting pitcher Jesse Chavez worked into the ninth inning as he outpitched John Danks and the White Sox lost their third in a row. Lost in the defeat were solo homers by Dayan Viciedo and Jose Abreu, who clubbed his major-league leading 14th. Abreu’s homer to lead off the ninth sparked the White Sox rally but Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle struck out Tyler Flowers and Leury Garcia with the tying run on second base.
“We don’t ever think we’re out of it,” first baseman Adam Dunn said. “We have an offense now that we have proven it doesn’t matter what the score is. For the most part late in games we bear down, have good at-bats and we usually make it pretty interesting.”
The White Sox didn’t have any energy in Sunday’s loss prompting manager Robin Ventura to call them out in his postgame press conference.
But energy wasn’t the issue on Monday.
He served up a second-inning solo homer to Viciedo to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Then he minimized the damage and got out of trouble in the fifth inning when Conor Gillaspie lined out to center with two outs and runners on second and third.
From there, Chavez retired 10 in a row until Abreu homered in the ninth inning. Abreu became the sixth player in major league history to hit 14 homers through the first 40 games of his career, including the first in White Sox history.
“We swung it all right,” Ventura said. “We had guys on base, Conor squared it up a couple times just right at people. Stuff like that happens. (Chavez) was good tonight, throwing strikes and getting ahead. We didn't foul too many off. He pitched a good game. We had a chance there in the ninth, it just didn't happen.”
After Abreu homered, Oakland went to one of three relievers it used in the ninth.
Adam Dunn walked, Viciedo doubled and Alexei Ramirez singled in a run to make it 5-3. Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly cut the deficit to a run but Doolittle got Flowers and Garcia.
Two batters after Danks walked leadoff hitter Josh Reddick, Oakland jumped ahead 3-1. Josh Donaldson ripped a 2-0 fastball from Danks (3-3) into the bleachers in left for a two-run homer with two outs in the fifth inning.
Danks allowed three earned runs and six hits over six innings. He struck out five and walked two.
“It’s been a focus, just making them earn their way on,” Danks said. “The thing I’m fighting the most now is pitch selection to Donaldson on that homer. I obviously don’t want to fall behind 2-0. I tried to throw a fastball away hoping he’d maybe roll over on it, and I didn’t quite get it out there. He’s a good hitter. He did what he’s supposed to do and cost us the game.”
The A’s broke the game open in the seventh inning against reliever Daniel Webb, who walked four batters in one-plus innings. Lowrie’s one-out double to left-center field drove in two to give Oakland a 5-1 lead.
Ventura was happy with what he saw from the White Sox even though the offense didn’t produce until late.
“(Energy) was there,” Ventura said. “It wasn't a lack of trying. Sometimes you hit it and it's right at people. Just because you don't score doesn't mean you don't have energy and things like that. Yesterday was a different deal. So was today.”