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Philip Humber takes liner to head in White Sox’ 4-2 loss to Indians

White Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber tries regroup after getting hit head by line drive from former Cub Kosuke Fukudome

White Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber tries to regroup after getting hit in the head by a line drive from former Cub Kosuke Fukudome in the second inning Thursday night. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:25AM

These are frightening times for the White Sox. They lost a home series to the Cleveland Indians, a team they need to overtake before they can think about catching the first-place Detroit Tigers.

They watched their starting pitcher get hit in the forehead with a batted ball in the second inning, a scary sight that sent a momentary jolt of horror through them and 27,079 spectators at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday night.

A couple of flying bats, one hitting a batboy in the third-base dugout and another that went spinning into the first row of seats, also sent the Sox ducking for cover.

Nothing, though, compared to the missile that felled Humber, who was struck above the right eye by Kosuke Fukudome’s hard-hit liner. The crowd collectively gasped as Humber bent over backward at the knees, his back making contact with the pitcher’s mound.

To everyone’s amazement, Humber was OK.

“That’s a God thing,’’ Humber said after the game, a 4-2 Sox defeat. “There’s a hand of protection around me. And I’m definitely thankful it wasn’t a lot worse and that I’m OK.”

After the ball fell near the third-base line for a single, trainer Herm Schneider rushed to the mound. Humber got up, put his cap back on and said he was OK, but Schneider and manager Ozzie Guillen ushered him to the trainer’s room. Initial tests on Humber were negative, and he’ll be re-evaluated Friday.

“It could have been an ugly night,’’ Guillen said. “It was just one game we lost. Thank God nothing happened to this kid.’’

Guillen, expecting bloodshed, said his first instinct was to grab towels before rushing to the mound.

“A lot of things go through your mind,’’ Guillen said. “How lucky we are, and how lucky he is right now that the ball hit him in the right spot.

“A couple of inches down, and it could have been very, very, very ugly.’’

Humber, who has a scar near his mouth from stitches for a wound suffered from a batted ball last June pitching in the minor leagues, took two Tylenol and said he felt fine.

“Same type of deal, hit me in the cheek,’’ he said. “I had 18 stitches and a hole in my face last year. Same thing, it could have been worse. I’m just very thankful. I got to do some drills to get my reflexes faster or quit getting line drives up the middle.”

Zach Stewart, who struck out five in relief the night before, was the emergency replacement. He gave up a two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch to Matt LaPorta in the fourth. Will Ohman (0-3) pitched a perfect fifth before allowing an RBI triple in the sixth to Fukudome, who scored when Jason Frasor walked Asdrubal Cabrera with the bases full to make it 4-2.

Paul Konerko’s 28th home run of the season against Indians starter Justin Masterson (10-7) and catcher Tyler Flowers’ two-out single provided the Sox’ runs on a night they left 10 runners on base and were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

The Sox fell four games behind idle Detroit. They trail Detroit and Cleveland by four games in the loss column.

Gordon Beckham (.238) was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, making the last out of the inning each time, leaving four runners in scoring position and fanning against Vinnie Pestano with the bases loaded in the eighth. Beckham was 1-for-13 in the series.

Humber might make his next start Wednesday at Anaheim.

“I would like to say that my wife [Kristan] was here, so obviously it was upsetting for her,’’ Humber said. “But she told me the fans were very supportive and had a lot of kind things to say to her, so I appreciate that.”

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