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Struggling Sox drop rubber game against Astros

Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks looks away as HoustAstros' Chris Carterleft rounds third base after hitting home run during

Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks looks away as Houston Astros' Chris Carter,left, rounds third base after hitting a home run during the second inning of a baseball game, Sunday, May 18, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider) ORG XMIT: TXPX103

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Updated: June 23, 2014 1:28PM

HOUSTON — It was bad enough the White Sox had to put first baseman Jose Abreu on the 15-day disabled list Sunday. When the game rolled around and the Sox got smacked around 8-2 in the rubber game of the series by the Houston Astros — the worst team in the American League — well, yeah, that was worse.

Then again, the Sox are no bowl of awesome themselves, having lost six of their last eight games.

Leadoff man Adam Eaton returned from his own stint on the DL and veteran Paul Konerko took over at first base, so it’s not as though manager Robin Ventura was forced to put a ragtag lineup on the field. Eaton and Konerko went a combined 1-for-8, though, and had plenty of company on the futility front.

Cleanup man Adam Dunn was 0-for-4 and, rather incredibly, struck out looking in all four trips. Worse, starting pitcher John Danks was simply awful. The left-hander from Austin, Texas, allowed six runs in the first three innings and eight (seven of them earned) by the time he called it a day after 42/3 innings.

With roughly 30 family members and friends in the stands at Minute Maid Park, that wasn’t how Danks (3-4) wanted to go out.

‘‘This one stings a little bit,’’ he said. ‘‘I was excited coming in and pitching at home. I had a lot of people here. It [stinks].’’

The Astros scored four times in the second, sparked by a massive home run by Chris Carter onto the railroad tracks in left field. Matt Dominguez homered twice, just missing the tracks once himself.

Astros starter Brad Peacock (1-4) won for the first time this season.

We have a problem

Danks is 0-3 with a 7.83 ERA against the Astros since they joined the American League last season. That’s pretty terrible.

In the bigger picture, he’s still struggling as he did last season, when he went 4-14 with a 4.75 ERA. That’s of far greater concern.

Danks’ ERA is up to an untidy 5.64. In road starts, he’s 1-3 with a 6.83 ERA.

Sale coming soon

Ace Chris Sale, who hasn’t pitched for the Sox since April 17
because of a strained flexor muscle in his left arm, was scheduled to meet the team Monday in Kansas City, Mo. It’s not likely he will return to the rotation during the series against the Royals, but he might get some side work.

It’s also possible Sale will be sent back to Class AAA Charlotte for another rehab start. He struck out 11 in four sparkling innings for Charlotte on Friday.

‘‘He feels real good,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. ‘‘Nothing beyond the normal soreness in between starts that every pitcher feels.’’

Ventura said he expects Sale will be activated no later than the Sox’ next homestand, which begins Thursday against the New York Yankees.


Twitter: @SLGreenberg

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