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Chris Sale gets the K’s, but O’s get ‘W’

Updated: September 20, 2014 6:25AM

Maybe next year, if general manager Rick Hahn can piece together a better bullpen than the one that has troubled his team all season long, perhaps the White Sox will win games like the one they lost Monday night.

With ace left-hander Chris Sale pitching below his high standards but well enough to win with three runs allowed and eight strikeouts in six innings, the Sox were looking at a chance to slow down the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles after Avisail Garcia’s two-out single in the ­seventh inning against Bud Norris got them within a run.

But then the eighth inning happened. Sale, done after more than 120 pitches and reminded once again as he sat in the dugout that there’s little margin for error on days when he goes to work, watched the Sox’ pen get rocked for five runs that sent the Orioles to an 8-2 victory.

“We just can’t get over the hump in that seventh [and eighth] inning,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s been a tough one for us.’’

After Ronald Belisario pitched a scoreless seventh, Garcia singled in two runs with two outs to close the deficit to 3-2.

“Avi gets up there, and that was probably the biggest hit of the night, getting those runs in,’’ Sale said. “We were a great outfielder away from potentially winning that game.’’

That would be right fielder Nick Markakis, who robbed the Sox of the tying and go-ahead runs by reaching above the fence to take a homer away from Conor Gillaspie. Then, after Belisario retired the first two Orioles in the eighth, J.J. Hardy singled, Chris Davis got hit by an Eric Surkamp pitch and Matt Lindstrom walked Caleb Joseph to load the bases. Jonathan Schoop cleared them with a double, and Markakis added to his starry night by hitting a two-run homer.

With that, many of the 17,686 in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field — most of them with Sale giveaway T-shirts in hand — headed for home.

“This is a team that, no question, I’ve struggled against,’’ said Sale, who gave up two homers for the first time this season and fell to 0-2 lifetime against Baltimore (71-52). “It’s something that’s just frustrating.’’

Sale left trailing 3-0, and all the Sox’ lineup could manage against Bud Norris while Sale was in there was a Jordan Danks single. After striking out 12 in eight scoreless innings and getting a no-decision against the Giants last Tuesday, Sale had to settle for his 11th quality start in his last 12 games. His ERA inched up from 2.01 to 2.12.

“He wasn’t necessarily on tonight, but they worked him over pretty good as far as getting him in situations,’’ Ventura said. “They have some guys that can hit some homers, and they did.’’

The Orioles had eight hits against Sale, who also walked two. When he reached 115 pitches in the sixth, Ventura went to the mound before Sale struck out Schoop on his 121st pitch, the most he has thrown since the 127-pitch outing April 17 against the Red Sox. He still had mid- to upper-90s velocity but wasn’t at his sharpest location-wise.

“We just have good at-bats against him,’’ Markakis said. “We got his pitch count up early, and that’s what you’ve got to do against those guys. Just go up there, have good at-bats, and when he makes a mistake and leaves one over the plate, you’ve got to do your best to put wood on it.

“We did that pretty well against a great pitcher.”


Twitter: @CST_soxvan

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