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White Sox unfamiliar with big hits

Updated: June 16, 2013 10:30PM

HOUSTON — One day it’s the defense, the next day it’s the base-running.

Every day it’s the hitting.

If it’s not two errors by the shortstop that make Chris Sale become the first White Sox pitcher since 1916 to strike out 14 batters and lose (Friday), a game ends with a pinch runner getting picked off at second base (Saturday). On Sunday, the Sox couldn’t get a clutch hit with the bases loaded and one out, and that wrote the script for a 5-4 loss to the Houston Astros.

Reasons abound as to why the 28-38 White Sox are one of the worst teams in baseball. They can’t hit when it matters most, and a .239 team average says they don’t hit much when it doesn’t, either. Alejandro De Aza hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, but all that did was chalk up a third one-run loss in a row.

“Offensively, we’re just not getting it done,’’ said Adam Dunn, who struck out three times after coming into the game on a 9-for-21 run with five homers and nine RBI over his last six games. “Since Day 1, I can talk and put a finger at why, but I can’t. For once, I’m speechless. I don’t know why our offense is sputtering. We got the talent and everything in place. We’re not producing.’’

“It’s kind of shocking compared to what we did last year,’’ said second baseman Gordon Beckham, whose two hits bumped his average up to .333. “I don’t know if there’s any rhyme or reason for that. I don’t know why.’’

Beckham’s average puts him in rarefied Sox air, but his sample size is small because of the seven weeks he missed after hand surgery. Dunn (.183), Paul Konerko (.234), Dayan Viciedo (.222) and Jeff Keppinger (.226) are piling up outs by the bushel.

“You get one hit, and it’s a different ballgame,’’ said losing pitcher Hector Santiago (2-5), who aside from walking four and giving up a three-run double to Matt Dominguez in the second inning was pretty good. Santiago struck out eight over 51/3 innings.

The key moment came in the seventh after Keppinger’s single drove in Viciedo, who had tripled. Beckham singled and pinch hitter Conor Gillaspie walked to load the bases with one out and the Sox trailing 3-2, but reliever Jose Cisnero struck out De Aza and got Alexei Ramirez on a check-swing tap to the mound.

“With the bases loaded, it changes the game around,’’ Santiago said.

“Bases loaded, one out, we just need to get the job done right there.’’

The loss was the fourth in a row for the Sox, who are 91/2 games out of first place in the American League Central. The Sox have lost 14 of their last 18. On the road, they’ve lost 12 of their last 13.

The Sox are feeling snakebitten, and with good reason, but their pain also is self-inflicted, and there’s more than what meets the eye that’s going wrong, too. There have been missed signs. There have been instances where a bunt sign is put on, then taken off because manager Robin Ventura likes the chances of a hitter getting a better pitch to hit, only to see the hitter take a good pitch to hit.

“It’s baseball. You have to create your own breaks and attitude-wise, everything else,’’ Ventura said.

“If you want to go down the road of feeling sorry for yourself and thinking bad things are going to happen, it’s probably going to happen. I’m not going there. You just have to pick yourself up and stay positive and get after it.’’

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