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White Sox strand 13 in one-run loss

September 7, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — In the first seven-plus innings, hits were not hard to come by for the White Sox on Wednesday against the Twins. But when they needed one most in the eighth, the White Sox could not even get the ball out of the infield.

Trailing by two with no outs, the White Sox had the tying run at second base with the heart of their order coming to the plate. Held hitless the rest of the game, the White Sox lost, 5-4, to the Twins at Target Field.

“I think we played typical White Sox baseball,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I don’t think we lost, I think we just gave this game away. There’s no doubt in my mind we just gave it away.”

Despite collecting 12 hits on the night, the White Sox went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base.

One of those hits came in the eighth, when Alexei Ramirez delivered a timely double, giving the White Sox a pair of runners in scoring position. But lefty Glen Perkins got Paul Konerko to pop out to first, A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to second and Alex Rios struck out looking to end the threat.

After watching strike three, Rios snapped his bat in half over his knee before throwing it to the ground along with his helmet.

“It was huge. That was the heart of their lineup,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “When we brought [Alex Burnett] in, we told him that we had a base open and he needed to make pitches. I thought he did a heck of a job getting the tapper back to the mound. It was all about making pitches after that and [Jose] Mijares did a great job with one pitch to A.J.”

The White Sox also were unable to come through in a similar situation in the sixth inning. After an RBI double by Juan Pierre — his 1,999th hit — they had a pair of runners in scoring position, but Ramirez grounded out for the second out of the inning.

After Konerko was intentionally walked, Pierzynski grounded into a forceout to end the inning.

“We had a lot of chances, [but] we couldn’t get the hits,” Guillen said. “I’m not going to talk about big hits, we can’t even get a hit.”

Along with the offense struggling in big situations, lefty John Danks was unable to keep the streak of strong White Sox starting pitching performances going.

After the White Sox had allowed just one run in the first three games of the series, including back-to-back shutouts, Danks gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits over six innings. The unearned run came after Danks’ appeared to pick off Luke Hughes, but Konerko’s throw to second sailed into left field and allowed Hughes to score the Twins’ fifth run.

Danks also walked two with four strikeouts and a hit batter. It was Danks’ second straight rough outing this month after three straight strong starts to end August, including a three-hit shutout at Seattle.

The loss marked Danks’ 11th of the season.

“I don’t know how many starts I have left, and I’ll be ready to throw in those games, but all in all, it’s been a crappy year,” Danks said.

“I’m looking forward to next year, starting clean. I don’t want to sound like I’m giving up on the year, I’m not. But definitely looking forward to a clean slate. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I put myself in this position. But it seems like this year especially, anything bad that can happen has.”

A big third inning cost Danks, as the Twins plated four two-out runs. After Danks issued a one-out walk to Drew Butera and Ben Revere singled, the lefty got Trevor Plouffe to strike out for the second out.

But an inside pitch grazed the jersey of Joe Mauer, loading the bases for a two-run bloop single by Danny Valencia and Chris Parmelee’s two-run double to center. Parmelee picked up his first two RBIs on his first extra-base hit.

“You obviously don’t want to walk Butera there,” Danks said. “But I made some good pitches to him, too.”

The White Sox answered with a pair of runs in the fifth, as Pierre led off the inning by reaching on a Parmelee error at first base. Pierre later scored on a single by Konerko, who advanced to third on an Pierzynski double and scored on Rios’ sacrifice fly to center.

Twins starter Carl Pavano did not have his best stuff, but picked up the win after he went 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs — only one of which was earned — on 10 hits. Pavano also walked a batter and had one strikeout.

One highlight on the night for the White Sox was right-hander Dylan Axelrod, who made his Major League debut in relief of Danks, tossing two scoreless frames while giving up just one hit. Axelrod also walked a batter and recorded his first two strikeouts.

Guillen was pleased with what he saw, especially with the way Axelrod threw a lot of strikes.

“It was just great getting out there for the first time,” Axelrod said. “It was fun getting that first strikeout, and that first out. Alexei made a great play on that. … It was just all a lot of highlights for me.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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