The Chicago White Sox couldn’t get much going offensively for eight innings Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels.
The ninth was a different story.
The Sox sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs. It still wasn’t enough as they fell 6-5 in front of 27,664 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I was pleased with them not only just in the ninth, we had a bunch of hits against a guy (Angels starter Michael Lorenzen) who really pitched well,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Give him a lot of credit. It’s just what we did in the ninth inning was very special. Could have been real special. We took our shot.”
Down a run, the Sox loaded the bases with two outs. Ryan Tepera, the third Angels pitcher of the inning, got Gavin Sheets to groundout to first to end the game and hand the Sox their 11th loss in the last 13 games.
“We fought in the ninth,” Sox center fielder Luis Robert said through an interpreter. “That’s a positive. We were able to come back in that ninth inning. It was good for us. Even though we didn’t win the game, it was a good battle. We know that we’re not passing a very good moment, but a game like today, the battle that we had in the ninth inning was good.”
The Sox found themselves in a hole two batters into the game when Mike Trout homered off Dallas Keuchel. Trout also doubled and scored during a two-run third.
Keuchel allowed four runs on six hits with five walks (one intentional) and one strikeout in five innings.
“Without those early walks, it’s a totally different ballgame,” Keuchel said. “That’s a very, very disappointing start to things. I’m still kind of forcing things early instead of just letting the game flow. If I can clean that up as well, I’d be a lot better off moving forward. I like the way the ball is moving right now. I like the ball on the ground.
“Outside of the backup cutter to Trout in the first, I really felt like I commanded well. It was just a matter of taking advantage of early takes. I really was just trying to establish what (Vince Velasquez) had started (Saturday). Outside of a few walks I’d like to have back, I really felt like I was getting some really weak contact.”
Keuchel (1-3) has surrendered 10 walks in his last two outings.
“It’s a lot easier to develop bad habits than it is to continue good ones,” he said. “The second half of last year, I was developing more bad habits than I was doing well. It’s just a matter of being comfortable and doing what I’m doing between starts, feeling great and commanding the ball, just taking that into the game consistently because it’s there and if it’s not there, you kind of see it with the walks.
“It’s usually a 2-2, 3-2 count. I’m not making that one pitch as easy as it should be. I should be able to command the zone early and get early contact. That’s a lot of what it is.”
Lorenzen (3-1) got a lot of outs early in counts, aiding the right-hander in going a career-high 8⅓ innings. He allowed three runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
“He had excellent command of three pitches,” La Russa said. “He stayed strong the whole game. I think our hitters took a lot of at-bats where we had somebody who made some good contact, got some hits. But he made a lot of quality pitches.”
Lorenzen went to the bottom of the ninth with a 6-0 lead. First baseman José Abreu and Sheets singled and second baseman Leury García drove them home with a one-out double.
Third baseman Josh Harrison knocked in García with a two-out double against closer Raisel Iglesias and scored on a Tim Anderson single, making it 6-4.
After initially being ruled out, Robert reached on an infield hit when the call was reversed following a review. Yasmani Grandal walked to load the bases and Iglesias hit Abreu, bringing home Anderson to get the Sox within a run.
Tepera retired Sheets with the grounder to end the comeback bid, but the Sox — perhaps — have something to build on heading into Monday’s series finale.
“Nothing surprises me with what we do as a team,” Keuchel said of the rally. “As well as we have not played together, that was standard right there. We’re battling. And it doesn’t mean if it’s on offense or defense or pitching, we’re in these ballgames.
“It’s nice to see smiles and hits, instead of sadness and slumber waiting for the next day.”
Third baseman Yoán Moncada (right oblique strain) went 2-for-4 with a home run Sunday during a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte against Jacksonville.
Reliever Joe Kelly (right biceps nerve injury) struck out one and hit a batter in a scoreless inning for the Knights.