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White Sox manager Robin Ventura stands by rookie closer Hector Santiago

Updated: May 28, 2012 9:11AM

Manager Robin Ventura is standing behind rookie closer Hector Santiago, who gave up five consecutive hits — including a two-run tying home run to Yoenis Cespedes — in the 14th inning of the White Sox’ tough 5-4 loss Wednesday to the Oakland Athletics.

Coaches and players are wondering if Santiago is tipping his pitches. Cespedes hit a 2-2 changeup deep into the seats against Santiago, who has given up four home runs.

“I watched video to see if I was tipping anything,’’ Santiago said before the game Thursday. “The location was fine. Just seeing it out of my hand and where I threw it, he might have caught it right out of my hand.’’

Santiago might do well to feature more of the pitches he has in his arsenal, including his screwball. And he might be pounding the zone to his own detriment.

“Right now I’m trying to get out of the zone a bit,’’ he said. “I’m a little too much in the zone with all my pitches, getting too much plate. I’m ahead in the count, trying to throw strikes still. Ahead in the count, I have to get somebody to chase something.’’

In any event, the left-hander is learning how to put blown saves behind him. He had two in six opportunities through Wednesday.

“I texted my dad this morning, ‘New season from now on. No blown saves.’ ’’

Crain’s business

Right-hander Jesse Crain threw about 20 pitches on the side to test his sore left oblique, which will sideline him into the weekend at least. Ventura and Crain said they don’t believe he’s headed to the disabled list. Their fingers are crossed.

“It’s still in the recovery process,’’ said Crain, who hopes to throw another side session Saturday. “It’s a day-to-day thing. Get treatment on it and go from there.’’

Prospect suspended

Class A right-hander Andre Rienzo was suspended 50 games for violating Minor League Baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program. Rienzo tested positive for metabolites of stanozolol.

Rienzo, 23, was 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA at Winston-Salem. He was leading the Carolina League with 31 strikeouts.

A top prospect in the Sox’ system, Rienzo claims he did not intentionally take a banned substance. He said he used a dietary supplement purchased during the offseason at a health store in Brazil, his home country.

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