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Chris Sale can’t hold four-run lead as White Sox fall to Dodgers

Alex Rios hits solo home run fifth inning. He would add another solo blast eighth. | Mark J. Terrill~AP

Alex Rios hits a solo home run in the fifth inning. He would add another solo blast in the eighth. | Mark J. Terrill~AP

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Updated: July 17, 2012 12:53PM

LOS ANGELES — Not being able to protect a 5-1 lead didn’t sit well with Chris Sale.

“You get five runs off a guy like that, he’s the best in the league,” Sale said of the run support provided by the White Sox against Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. “I have to be better than that. That was a load of crap — that’s exactly what that was.”

Sale, who was 5-0 in his previous five starts with an 0.98 ERA, couldn’t finish the sixth inning, and the Dodgers rallied for a 7-6 victory. Sale tied a career high allowing seven hits and gave up a career-high five runs. His four walks also were the most he has allowed.

The Sox, who have lost four times in the last five games, lost the lead and tied it on Alex Rios’ homer in the eighth inning, his second of the night. But the Dodgers’ James Loney scored the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth on a wild pitch by Matt Thornton (2-4) that skipped in the dirt away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

Adam Dunn hit his major-league-leading 23rd homer in the first, a two-run shot against Kershaw, who, like Sale, wasn’t on top of his game in what was an anticipated duel between two of the top young lefties.

“Adam’s home run loosened us up kind of quick,” Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said.

Dunn’s homer marked his eighth career hit in 12 at-bats against Kershaw and his fourth homer. Nine of Dunn’s homers have given the Sox the lead. This one was his eighth with two strikes and his seventh in the first inning.

But Sale walked Dee Gordon to start the Dodgers’ first and gave up an RBI double to Elian Herrara. He got into a better rhythm in the scoreless second, third and fourth innings but walked Jerry Hairston Jr. for the third time to lead off the sixth. The Dodgers went on to score five runs in the sixth.

A single by A.J. Ellis, an RBI double by Juan Uribe off third baseman Orlando Hudson’s glove and a pinch-hit single by Ivan DeJesus Jr. kicked the inning into gear for the Dodgers.

After second baseman Gordon Beckham made a bare-hand catch of Gordon’s popped-up bunt off Konerko’s glove, manager Robin Ventura lifted Sale at 107 pitches for reliever Jesse Crain. Herrera doubled in two runs to tie the score at 5, and Juan Rivera scored Herrera with a single to put the Dodgers in front.

When Rios added a solo blast in the fifth, it looked like the Sox had plenty for Sale. Nobody expected that Rios’ next homer — his eighth this year — would be needed to tie it against Ronald Belisario (2-0).

“I never really put it together,” Sale said. “All over the place. Walked the first guy, a few after that. Just throwing the ball all over the place. They got my pitch count up there and took advantage of that.”

“He wasn’t as sharp as he’s been,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He wasn’t his best, but he was still pretty good.”

The Sox (34-30) lead the Cleveland Indians by a half-game in the American League Central.

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