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White Sox fall to Orioles on two-run homer in eighth

The Orioles’ Nate McLouth follows through his two-run home run eighth inning Monday. | Getty Images

The Orioles’ Nate McLouth follows through on his two-run home run in the eighth inning Monday. | Getty Images

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Updated: September 29, 2012 6:21AM

BALTIMORE — The White Sox came from behind to take the lead Monday, then handed it right back to the Baltimore Orioles.

With September arriving this weekend, it’s getting too late for givebacks.

‘‘You never want to lose a game like that when you have a lead,’’ third baseman Kevin Youkilis said after the Sox lost 4-3 on Nate McLouth’s two-run home run against Brett Myers in the eighth inning. ‘‘We had a chance to win in the ninth. . . . It was one of those games where both teams battle back and forth, and we came up short.’’

The loss cut the Sox’ lead over the idle Detroit Tigers in the American League Central to two games.

Youkilis hit a two-run homer to give the Sox a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but the Orioles tied the score. After the Sox regained the lead on an RBI infield single by Adam Dunn in the eighth, the Orioles took it back to improve to 24-6 in one-run games.

Alexei Ramirez reached on an
infield single against closer Jim Johnson with two outs in the ninth and moved to second on a wild pitch, but Gordon Beckham grounded out to end the game and halt the Sox’ winning streak at six.

In the end, walks killed the Sox, who issued seven. It was the third time in the last eight games Sox pitchers had walked seven or more. Myers’ walk of Mark Reynolds with one out in the eighth preceded McLouth’s long homer to right field that erased the Sox’ 3-2 lead.

‘‘I tried not to throw it down the middle, and that’s where it was,’’ Myers said. ‘‘It didn’t do what I wanted it to do.’’

Left-hander Matt Thornton was warmed up in the bullpen, but manager Robin Ventura stayed with Myers, who had pitched a perfect seventh. McLouth hits left-handed.

‘‘They had some [right-handed] guys behind him, and it’s one of those where you get one more guy and see how it’s going to go,’’ Ven-
tura said. ‘‘You tip your cap to them. Brett’s been good for us.’’

The loss spoiled a solid night at shortstop for Ramirez, who had nine assists, including four big plays to keep the Sox in contention. He did so despite pulling part of the nail on his right pinkie finger while trying to make a barehand play in the fifth.

Sox left-hander Francisco Liriano allowed two runs in five innings before leaving with cramping in his left leg.

‘‘He was cramping up,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He felt like he was all right, and then he was limping. Early he was erratic, then he cleaned it up and did his job.’’

Youkilis continued to deliver a steady dose of clutch hits by belting a two-run homer against left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to erase the Orioles’ 1-0 lead. It was one of four hits against Chen, a 12-game winner who struck out eight — including A.J. Pierzynski three times and Alex Rios twice — in six innings.

In 51 games with the Sox, Youkilis has 12 homers and 38 RBI. In the last week, he hit a go-ahead grand slam last Tuesday against the New York Yankees and tied the Sox’ 9-8 victory Friday against the Seattle Mariners after the team had blown a five-run lead in the ninth.

Having played for two World Series champions, Youkilis knows what it takes.

‘‘We’re happy with how we’re playing, but this time of year you have to win as many series as possible,’’ he said. ‘‘We have to grind away. With 30-plus games left, we need to be on the winning side a lot more than on the losing side.’’

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