The Chicago White Sox try to recover from a rare loss at Angel Stadium and the team’s heart of the order tries to snap out of a slump when they close out a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
Chicago (83-62) has scored a combined eight runs in the last three games and has lost seven of its last 12 to fall four games behind the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers and 2 1/2 games behind the wild card-leading Minnesota Twins.
“It stinks, obviously,” said center fielder Rob Mackowiak, who had an RBI single in Tuesday’s 11-inning, 4-3 loss. “We don’t look forward to falling back even more, but it seems like Minnesota wins every day. So we can’t really afford to lose too many more. All we can do is come back tomorrow and be ready to play.”
Dye, Thome and Konerko have all contributed to the swoon. The trio, which bat 3-4-5 in the lineup and possess the club’s top power numbers, were 0-for-13 on Tuesday and are batting .059 (2-for-34) in the last three games.
Leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik is also struggling, batting just .250 with one RBI in his last seven contests. He went 1-for-4 with a walk Tuesday, but also got caught stealing for the 16th time this season, most in the AL.
Los Angeles center fielder Chone Figgins won the game with an RBI single in the 11th off White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. The victory was the eighth in 10 games for the Angels, who are 4 1/2 games behind the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics.
“It’s tough to come through in a big moment,” Figgins said. “I was just looking for a pitch to drive and hit it hard somewhere. I’m glad I was able to get an opportunity to contribute tonight. The guys stuck together and we pulled out a big one.”
The White Sox had won seven straight games at Angel Stadium, including three games during last year’s American League Championship Series.
Chicago will hand the ball to Freddy Garcia (13-9, 5.02 ERA) to close out the series. Garcia allowed three runs—two earned—and six hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Cleveland Indians on Friday. He also struck out a season-high eight batters, but did not receive a decision in the 7-6 win.
The right-hander is 13-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 23 career starts against the Angels.
He is 2-0 against Los Angeles this season, and was also one of four Chicago starters to pitch a complete game during last year’s ALCS.
The Angels (78-67) counter with Joe Saunders (5-2, 3.76), who won for the first time in five outings on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. The 25-year-old rookie left-hander allowed one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-1 victory.
“They were hitting me pretty good in the first couple of innings,” said Saunders, whose outing was the longest of his 11 career starts. “So I kept the ball down later on using my two-seamer and change-up and used a couple of curveballs. But the best pitch in baseball is strike one.”
Saunders is 4-1 with a 2.95 ERA in six home starts this year. He has never faced the White Sox.
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