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Chris Sale removed after 4 innings in White Sox’ loss to Orioles

White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale struggled against Baltimore Tuesday night suffering loss.|  Nick Wass~AP

White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale struggled against Baltimore on Tuesday night, suffering the loss.| Nick Wass~AP

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:29AM

BALTIMORE — A 6-0 loss Tuesday to the Baltimore Orioles with left-hander Chris Sale on the mound wasn’t the shot in the arm the White Sox wanted as a precursor to Sale’s start Sunday against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.

The last thing anyone expected from Sale was a four-inning, 75-pitch outing that ended with Philip Humber taking the mound to start the fifth.

But that was the scene at Camden Yards, where the Sox’ lineup had no support for Sale anyway. Their only hit against Orioles starter Chris Tillman (7-2) was an infield nubber by Dayan Viciedo in the fifth. Adam Dunn added an infield hit against Brian Matusz in the ninth.

With an eye on Sale’s arm and body as September approaches, Sox manager Robin Ventura made a sound move in getting him out of the game early.

‘‘He didn’t look like he had it, and we weren’t doing too much offensively,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He was taking a lot of pitches to throw strikes. He just didn’t look like he had it today.’’

Before Tuesday, Sale’s shortest outing this season had been five
innings. Sale, who was pitching on five days of rest, and Ventura said the quick hook wasn’t injury-related.

‘‘I just didn’t have it tonight,’’ Sale said. ‘‘Didn’t bring it, didn’t have it. A disgrace, honestly.’’

Losing to the Orioles (71-57), who have the same record as the Sox, is no disgrace. But the Sox must win Wednesday and Thursday to salvage a split of the four-game series before they square off against the Tigers in a battle for first place in the American League Central.

Asked about matching up against Verlander, who allowed eight runs Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals, Sale was short and to the point.

‘‘I can’t bring the [stuff] I brought tonight, that’s for sure,’’ he said.

Sale struck out four of the first six Orioles he faced. But Nate McLouth blooped a single with two outs in the second, and Sale loaded the bases by walking Manny Machado and Robert Andino, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters. Nick Markakis then cleared the bases with a double to deep center to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.

In the third, Sale allowed a two-out home run to Lew Ford to make it 4-0. It was Ford’s second homer in two nights and second in five years.

In the fourth, Sale yielded two hits without allowing a run. All told, he gave up six hits and three walks and struck out five.

The logic of getting Sale out of the game rather than leaving him in with the Sox chasing a four-run deficit looked sound when Tillman continued to mow down the Sox with ease.

‘‘[Tillman] was that good,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Nothing was hit hard. He didn’t seem like he got behind hardly anybody. He pitched a great game.’’

Sale, whose ERA since his 12-day rest over the All-Star break is 3.90, couldn’t say the same.

‘‘Almost like I hit a brick wall,’’ he said. ‘‘First couple of innings I was dialed in, throwing a lot of strikes, filling up the zone. And it just got away. . . .

‘‘I felt good. I even had an extra day of rest. Team comes out after a good [6-0] homestand and loses the first one [Monday], and then you get it handed to you. That is not what you’re looking for.’’

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