Bullpen unable to hold lead as White Sox slide hits five

Sale's gritty effort, Abreu's big game go for naught after walk-off homer

Bullpen unable to hold lead as White Sox slide hits five

BALTIMORE -- As the ball soared off Chris Davis' bat and toward right field, all of the good baseball the White Sox played on Monday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards seemed to vanish.

With a towering three-run, pinch-hit home run, Jose Abreu's 22nd homer of the season was made irrelevant. A gritty, impressive start by Chris Sale was rendered useless. Another narrow defeat -- this time 6-4 at the hands of the O's -- was in the books as Chicago continues to reel.

"This is part of the game," Abreu said through an interpreter after the White Sox second walk-off loss in a week. "You go through highs and lows and you have to learn from those lows. Today is behind already. Tomorrow we've got to go back at it. That's how you get out of it."

In a game that featured two of the top three home run hitters in baseball, it was last year's best who delivered the crushing blow.

The Orioles (40-35) trailed, 4-3, with one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth when Delmon Young's spot was due up in the order. The outfielder already had a trio of hits, but Baltimore opted for Davis -- who was on the bench with Chicago's (35-42) southpaw ace on the hill -- as a pinch-hitter.

The slugger worked the count full and belted his 13th home run of the season off White Sox closer Ronald Belisario (3-4) toward Eutaw Street.

"I made a mistake and, whatever, I lost the game," Belisario said.

The loss, the White Sox fifth in a row and eighth straight on the road, saw them once again play well with nothing to show for it. During a four-game sweep in Minnesota over the weekend, the White Sox lost by a combined five runs.

Manager Robin Ventura was looking to Sale as the stopper his team needed to end the skid, and after the first inning, he did his job. The American League Cy Young Award contender gave up a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the first, but that was it. He lasted six innings and held the O's to just one hit with runners in scoring position despite allowing a career-high 11 overall.

Sale is 3-0 with three no-decisions following a White Sox loss.

"You don't see somebody get out of that many messes," Ventura said. "But he was in quite a bit of a mess the entire game. We were fortunate at that point to be in that situation."

On the offensive end, Abreu outshined one of the few hitters with more homers than him -- Nelson Cruz. In the third, the first baseman scored the White Sox first run with an RBI groundout. Three innings later, he tied the game with a solo shot that landed in the Orioles' bullpen in left-center.

Abreu remains behind only Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion for the Major League home run lead.

"Offense grinded it out," Ventura said. "They were scratching and clawing."

Chicago managed to take the lead later in that sixth inning. In the seventh, Abreu gave the White Sox an insurance run when he lifted a double to left field that Cruz couldn't reach to push Chicago's advantage to 4-2.

But two innings later, it was all forgotten. The White Sox surrendered a home run to Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph -- the No. 9 hitter -- in the eighth inning before Davis sent most of the 17,931 in attendance home happy and gave relief pitcher Brad Brach (1-0) just the fourth win of his career.

"It was a nice spot to be in with the game on the line, obviously," Davis said. "You want to deliver."

Davis' dinger was just the O's second hit with a runner in scoring position, as Chicago's bullpen struggles continued. A reliever has taken the loss in three games during the White Sox skid.

Some pieces are encouraging for Chicago -- the ability to manufacture runs and Abreu's hot streak stand out -- but the inconsistent bullpen remains an issue. Right now, the parts aren't all fitting together.

"Bad times are part of this, and I think what we have to do is we have to play together," Abreu said. "We have to get united. Tough times are going to be there. That's part of the game, it's part of the spectacle, it's part of everything you do in baseball.

"To be able to get out, you have to pull it together."

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