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White Sox unable to back solid Danks vs. Padres

Southpaw allows two runs in seven innings, but outdueled by Kennedy

CHICAGO -- The only fireworks coming from U.S. Cellular Field on Friday night took place as a grandiose, pyrotechnic presentation after the Padres' 4-1 victory over the White Sox.

There actually were a few solid shots delivered by San Diego (25-30). But on the White Sox side of the ledger, Ian Kennedy (4-6), Nick Vincent, Joaquin Benoit and closer Huston Street (16th save) kept matters fairly quiet to the tune of one double and three singles.

In the bigger picture, though, all was not lost for the White Sox (28-28) after their three-game winning streak came to an end.

John Danks pitched well enough to win, putting together a second straight start that was a little bit above and beyond the quality level. Unfortunately, his offense didn't cooperate.

"For the most part, I was able to get the kind of contact I wanted. Obviously made some mistakes and got burned for them, but all in all it was a good day," said Danks, who threw 64 of his 103 pitches for strikes. "I feel good. I feel comfortable out there. I just got outpitched tonight. That's the way it goes."

"He's able to work a little bit lower in the zone," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Danks' improvement. "Before, he was leaving stuff up and getting hit pretty good. He has a little more on it than he did before. It's just work that goes into it that he feels better when he goes out there, and I think confidence comes with that."

Danks (3-5) allowed just two runs on eight hits over seven innings, striking out four and walking one. Over Danks' last two starts, the southpaw has yielded two runs on 11 hits in 15 innings, with eight strikeouts and just the one walk.

This recent stretch of excellence for Danks, which Friday stood up as the team's 1,000th quality start since 2003, stands as a testament to a veteran who is not afraid to put in a little extra work in order to improve. He threw three lighter bullpens in between a rough start against the Astros and eight shutout innings thrown last Saturday against the Yankees. He then took advantage of Thursday's scheduled off-day to throw two more before facing the Padres.

The mechanical changes Danks made with pitching coach Don Cooper weren't drastic, but they were enough to put him in a better position on the mound.

"I feel like we're real close," Danks said. "There were certain instances today where Coop would have to remind me of something and tell me I'm doing something different, and I went back out there and fixed it. I don't feel like we're far off, but there's certainly work to be done."

"You saw the four-pitch mix, the changeup was effective and it felt like when he really needed to throw a good pitch, it seemed like he did," said Padres manager Bud Black of Danks. "He gave them two runs over seven innings. That's pretty good."

Cameron Maybin victimized Danks for a solo homer in the third, which was the first of the season for the Padres' center fielder. And a two-out wild pitch scored Rene Rivera with the go-ahead run in the fifth, after Danks had struck out Chris Denorfia to move closer to escaping unscathed.

That third-inning damage could have been worse, as Danks stranded runners on second and third following a Carlos Quentin double. It was Gordon Beckham who saved a bigger rally earlier in the inning when he threw out Everth Cabrera on a perfectly placed one-out bunt by shoveling the ball to first baseman Adam Dunn with his glove on the run, as he was falling down.

It was a wild pitch that scored the White Sox only run, as Conor Gillaspie came home in the fourth. Gillaspie had two hits on the night.

San Diego added two important insurance runs in the eighth, when Tommy Medica walked against reliever Javy Guerra and Yonder Alonso homered on a 1-2 pitch. With the White Sox going hitless over the final five innings and striking out eight times during that stretch, the one-run lead might have been enough.

Kennedy struck out nine in six innings, with the White Sox fanning 13 times on the night.

"How quickly we forget he was in the Cy Young running -- I think in 2011 I believe it was. He's a good pitcher," said White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton of Kennedy, whom he knew from their time together in Arizona. "He mixes his stuff up. He hits his spots.

"He's too familiar with me. I'm going to have a bone to pick with him after the game, because he just threw in on me the entire time, but he's a good pitcher. You've got to tip your hat to him. He knows how to pitch. He studies the heck out of people and he knows how to approach the game and he competes."

Friday's loss dropped the White Sox to .500 for the 16th time this season. They also fell to 5-3 on what has been a fairly solid homestand. Danks deserved better, just as he did last Saturday when the team lost a three-run, ninth-inning lead.

In this instance, Kennedy was just a little too much.

"Ian has been tremendous for us the whole year," Alonso said. "So it was definitely nice to get him a win."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
Read More: Chicago White Sox, John Danks