John Danks gave up three first-inning runs the White Sox turned a scuffling lefty into a strikeout artist, and they dropped their third straight game to Pittsburgh and their sixth overall.
Yet this one wasn't an entirely a carbon copy of the Sox' first two losses to the Pirates, and for a couple of reasons.
They scored runs! Yes, they didn't get their first hit until the fourth inning. Yes, they struck out eight times over six innings against Jeff Locke, who isn't a strikeout pitcher.
But dammit, they managed to double their run output of their previous three games over the course of an inning. With two outs in the sixth, Adam Eaton drew a walk, then scored when Melky Cabrera shot a grounder past Jung-Ho Kang on a hit-and-run. Locke then walked Jose Abreu to bring up Avisail Garcia, who smacked a first-pitch curve ball into left center, which was good enough to score Cabrera despite his stumbling around third.
Robin Ventura was ejected! Eaton became the Sox's first baserunner in the fourth inning via the HBP. He then took off on a full-count pitch to Cabrera, who swung and missed on a ball low and away. His swing momentum carried him across home plate, and Francisco Cervelli had to throw over him. Eaton was easily safe ... until home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez called him out on interference by Cabrera.
Ventura came out to argue, and one could understand his frustration. Cabrera was on the plate, but due to the natural act of swinging. It's a call that seems to go against the Sox, while Sox catchers can never draw the same. How did Ventura feel about it?
Sorry, Robin, I didn't catch that. Can you say that again?
OK, you left out the first part the last time.
But the call stood, and Abreu inadvertently added to the pain when he singled to right, which could have scored Eaton if he were still on base. Instead, the Sox had to wait until the sixth inning, or 30 innings after scoring their last run in Tampa Bay.
That left them only three innings to tie it up, and they couldn't do it against Arquimedes Caminero, Tony Watson or Mark Melancon. But then again, when you only get two at-bats with runners in scoring position and don't hit a homer, then two runs is a pretty generous output.
Whatever the case, it wasn't enough support to spare John Danks, who dropped to 3-7 after allowing three runs over seven innings. The line was fine -- five hits, zero walks, four strikeouts, and one costly Kang homer -- and he finished his night retiring 20 of 22, but the immediate hole was kind of annoying, and so he's not less likely to shed any critics.
The White Sox have scored a grand total of three runs over their last four games, mind you.
*The top of order ... actually did its job? Eaton (HBP, walk), Cabrera (double, single) and Abreu (single, walk) all reached base twice. Garcia also went 1-for-4. The lineup from Adam LaRoche on down went 0-for-17.
*Mark Parent had better luck with the umpires, overturning a safe call on Starling Marte's groundout to short. The replay showed that Alexei Ramirez's throw beat him by a hair.