Walks haunt White Sox in streak-busting loss

Walks haunt White Sox in streak-busting loss

Walks haunt White Sox in streak-busting loss
BALTIMORE -- The worst losses in baseball are those that come on a big play late in the game. In the midst of a pennant race, they're that much tougher to swallow.

That's why there wasn't much talking going on in the White Sox clubhouse after Monday's 4-3 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards. Nate McLouth's two-run homer in the eighth off Brett Myers ended Chicago's six-game winning streak and handed the White Sox a very frustrating defeat.

Chicago (71-56) still holds a two-game lead over the idle Tigers in the American League Central. But the White Sox twice rallied from being a run down to take the lead, the final time on Adam Dunn's infield single in the top of the eighth that put them up 3-2. McLouth then turned everything around a few minutes later.

"It's a tough one, but we'll be back tomorrow," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "They're playing hard. That's the only thing you can really ask for is effort, and the way they go at it. I have no complaints with that."

A few mistakes did the White Sox in on this night. Starter Francisco Liriano gave up a solo homer to Baltimore's Lew Ford in the second, his first homer in the Major Leagues since July 31, 2007.

Liriano and Jesse Crain combined to walk three in the sixth inning, the final free pass coming to McLouth with the bases loaded and forcing in a run that tied the game at 2.

The biggest mistake came in the eighth, and a walk was once again involved. Mark Reynolds drew a one-out free pass off Myers (2-2). Two pitches later, McLouth crushed a fastball from Myers for his two-run homer to right. White Sox pitchers walked seven on this night.

"It was a mistake and he got it," Myers said of McLouth's home run. "I'd like to have it back, but unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. I thought I made some good pitches on [Reynolds]. Can't walk a guy in that situation. It came back and bit me in the rear."

McLouth had been one of the more talented outfielders in the Major Leagues a few years ago but went on a mysterious slide that landed him in the Minors.

The Orioles (70-57) picked him up earlier this summer, and he became the starting left fielder, helping on defense and offense. This time, McLouth said he was helped by the fact that he'd seen Myers before.

"I faced him a number of times in the NL Central when he was with Houston, with mixed results," McLouth said. "[But] I got a good fastball that I could handle."

The White Sox nearly tied it in the ninth against Orioles closer Jim Johnson. Alexei Ramirez, who partially pulled the nail off one of his fingers earlier in the game, reached on an infield single with two outs and went to second on a wild pitch.

Gordon Beckham then hit a slow roller to short. Ramirez took off and had already rounded third and would have scored if Beckham reached. But J.J. Hardy got him at first to end the game.

"You never want to lose a game like that," said White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis. "We had a chance in the ninth inning to [tie it]. It's one of those games you battle back and forth, both teams."

The White Sox really needed to do battle against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, who kept them quiet in his six innings of work.

Chen, a left-hander, gave up two runs on just four hits. He struck out eight, often using a sneaky fastball that he spotted well and that clearly bothered the White Sox. Several times, Chen got them to swing and miss or foul off his high fastball.

After Ford's homer off Liriano made it 1-0 in the second, Chen didn't have much trouble until he made a fielding error on a Dewayne Wise grounder to start the sixth.

Youkilis then blasted a two-run homer to left on the next pitch for a 2-1 White Sox lead. The three walks came in the bottom of the inning to tie the game before Dunn gave Chicago a brief lead in the eighth. Pedro Strop (5-2) worked his way out of trouble and gave up just one run to the White Sox there, setting up McLouth's big hit in the bottom half.

But like Ventura said, the White Sox simply have to come back tomorrow and try again. They've got 35 games left and a good shot at the playoffs.

"We're happy with how we're playing," Youkilis said. "This time of the year, you've got to win all the series possible. We're in a pennant race here. You've got to be on the winning side a lot more than the losing side."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.