Skid hits four, dropping White Sox out of first

Skid hits four, dropping White Sox out of first

Skid hits four, dropping White Sox out of first
DETROIT -- It took just four days for the White Sox to turn a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League Central into a precarious half-game lead for the AL's second Wild Card spot.

That dip reached a resounding thud with the Tigers' 7-1 victory over Chicago before 42,888 on Saturday at Comerica Park.

But while White Sox fans now might be expecting the worst or at least have doubt where there once was money put aside for playoff tickets, the club does not have the look of one in a tailspin off the field and in the clubhouse. Maybe that's because this string of four straight losses and five in a span of six games has come in the third week of July instead of the third week of September.

"I don't see other teams giving up that we swept," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura in a matter-of-fact tone.

"There's a lot of baseball left," said White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale, who suffered the loss on Saturday. "I don't think anyone here is hanging their head. You win some, you lose some. You have got to keep your head up through the bad times and keep going."

Clearly the times are bad when Sale, the White Sox All-Star phenom, is not able to stop the skid.

His personal run of eight straight decisions and 10 straight starts without a loss came to an end, when the southpaw yielded five runs on seven hits over seven innings and 90 pitches. The deciding shot came in the sixth with two outs and Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta on base, when Brennan Boesch ripped a 1-0 offering deep into the right-field stands to turn a 2-1 Detroit lead into a 5-1 advantage.

Boesch became the first left-handed hitter to go deep off the left-handed-throwing Sale (11-3) this season. It was just the second career homer by a left-handed hitter against Sale.

"Any time you see lefties get some decent swings on him, you kind of figure he's -- I don't know if it's struggling, but he's not as sharp as he would like to be," said Ventura of Sale, who lost for the first time since May 12, at home against the Royals. "I don't think it was his sharpest day."

According to Sale, the pitch Boesch crushed was a hanging slider.

"We've seen it before: When you leave one up to him, he's going to crush it, and he did," Sale said. "You have to make better pitches against a team like that, honestly. Up and down the lineup, they have guys who can hit. You can't take a pitch off, and they'll hurt you like they did me tonight."

"That's the first time I've hit him at all, really," Boesch said. "He's one of the premier pitchers in the league, an All-Star and all that. His numbers are great. But anyone can get hit. You've just got to wait for a good pitch and put a good swing on it."

For the seventh time on this 10-game road trip to start the second half, the White Sox (50-44) scored three runs or fewer. And for the sixth time on this 3-6 excursion, they lost.

Rick Porcello had something to do with the struggles of the White Sox, holding the visitors to one run on five hits over eight-plus innings. The White Sox lone run came in the fifth, after Porcello (7-5) was perfect for the first four innings. The right-hander has cruised to a 3-0 record against the White Sox this season.

"Porcello was as good as anybody we've seen this year," said Ventura of the Detroit starter, who fanned four and didn't issue a walk. "We are scuffling a little bit offensively. You get that combination, and it's tough. It's tough putting that kind of heat on the pitchers and making them feel like they have to blank everybody."

This lack of White Sox offense and the Tigers (51-44) scoring all seven of their runs with two outs, including four RBIs from Austin Jackson, pushed Ventura's crew out of first place for the first time since June 23.

"If I have two outs and a guy gets a big hit or something like that, that's the dagger," Porcello said. "You're almost out of the inning with no damage, and then somebody comes up with a clutch hit. It's one of the worst things you can go through. We've put up runs on some tough pitchers, and it's really good to see."

Detroit won for the 12th time in its last 14 games overall, moving up from third place and 4 1/2 games behind the White Sox. Plenty of rough spots across the board can be found during the White Sox losing streak.

They aren't close to enough to convince the White Sox that a season-ending downfall looms on the horizon. The team even acquired late-inning reliever Brett Myers on Saturday as preparation for this final two-month playoff push.

"Do you want to give up two or three games over a two- or three-day span? No, but it's a long haul," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "We knew we'd get resistance from other teams in this division. Detroit hasn't been hot all year, and they're kind of hot right now.

"Whether we won the last two games or won the last seven games, we'd still come here tomorrow to try to win one game, and that's what we're going to do. That's all you can control. Get your stuff ready to play and get after it. Times like this, as much as you want to force it, you can't. Just keep doing your thing and hopefully, it turns."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.