Sox spring late rally, but comeback bid falls short
Chicago scores three in final frame, including Abreu's 14th jack
OAKLAND -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura wanted to see more energy out of his club heading into Monday's series opener against the A's.
While the team showed some late life with a ninth-inning rally, Chicago ultimately fell short in a 5-4 Oakland victory that was marked by another solid start from A's righty Jesse Chavez.
It was just the latest display of the White Sox finding some magic in the final stages of games. Even though the end result wasn't desired, veteran Adam Dunn said he's been encouraged by his team's ability to respond to late deficits.
"If we have one good thing we've done all year," Dunn said, "it seems like no matter what the score is, we continue to battle. No matter how bad it might look for seven, eight innings, we know we're capable of putting some runs together late."
Before the contest started, Ventura held court with reporters, using the word "flat" repeatedly to describe his team's effort in a 5-1 loss on Sunday to Arizona.
Trailing by four runs heading into the final frame on Monday, the White Sox could have rolled over, but they didn't.
Jose Abreu hit a home run to right field for his MLB-leading 14th homer of the year to lead off the ninth and chase Chavez from the mound. Then Alexei Ramirez hit an RBI single to score pinch-runner Moises Sierra and Paul Konerko hit a pinch-hit RBI sacrifice fly, but A's lefty Sean Doolittle was finally able shut the door.
"It was there," Ventura said of his team's effort. "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 to don't have energy and things like that."
While the White Sox were able to get early baserunners on against Chavez, trying to rally against him was a whole different issue. Chavez never faced more than four batters in any frame, en route to finishing eight-plus innings of two-run ball. He retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out seven, moving his record to 3-1 and ERA to 2.44.
"That's probably the best I've felt all year," Chavez said, "just staying focused and ahead of the count and mixing everything."
The 30-year-old only needed 93 pitches to get through his outing against a White Sox squad that was swinging early and often.
"I don't know if we were too aggressive, but he throws a lot of strikes," Ventura said. "Either you're going to have to swing at them or it's probably going to be strike three really quick. You can't always plan on fouling stuff off. But I think guys were up there grinding it out and it just didn't happen."
Dayan Viciedo's solo shot in the second stood as Chicago's only offense on the evening until the ninth-inning rally. The White Sox (19-21) have now lost four of their last five contests, while the A's (24-15) have won five straight.
White Sox starter John Danks turned in a quality start, but his offense couldn't pick him up in time. Danks (3-3) finished six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five, slightly lowering his ERA To 4.88.
Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick nearly hit a two-run homer in the second but it bounced off the top of the wall, as he settled for a standup triple, scoring Nick Punto to make it 1-1. Then the A's took a 3-1 lead in the fifth when Josh Donaldson drilled one to left field for his eighth dinger of the year.
"The thing I'm fighting the most now is pitch selection to Donaldson on that homer," Danks said. "Obviously, don't want to fall behind 2-0, but tried to throw a fastball hoping he'd roll over on it but didn't quite get it out there. That's a good hitter, did what he was supposed to do."
Oakland's offense was able to put more runs on the board against the White Sox bullpen as well. In the seventh, Reddick singled and Craig Gentry walked before Jed Lowrie laced a two-run double to left field to make it 5-1.
Reliever Daniel Webb had a tough outing, giving up two earned runs on two hits and four walks in an inning of work while striking out one. Even though Oakland was able to score its crucial insurance runs off Webb, it was Danks who shouldered the blame of the loss.
"Just tried to go out there and eat as many innings as I could and give our offense a chance to come back," Danks said. "They did tonight what they always do -- didn't give up. It's just unfortunate that I made the mistake I did to really cost us the ballgame."