Error costly in loss to Rockies
Konerko can't grab run-scoring grounder; Danks goes six
CHICAGO -- The White Sox team that showed up to play the Rockies on Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field looked nothing like the one that had won its previous nine home games.
Two errors were responsible for two Rockies runs and that was all that it took for Colorado to even the series with a 2-0 win.
The Rockies went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, which is better than the White Sox can say. Only one Chicago runner reached second base and none reached third. Give credit where credit's due, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"You got to give credit to those pitchers," he said. "They threw the ball well. [Rockies starter Jorge] De La Rosa threw a lot of breaking balls behind the count and we kept chasing. Sometimes, you gotta tip your hat to the opposition."
White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski made a similar observation.
"Every time he got behind, he seemed to throw a splitty or a slider for a strike," Pierzynski said of De La Rosa, who struck out a career-high eight batters. "You're not gonna win a lot of games when you get three singles."
The game was scoreless through six innings, at which point White Sox starter John Danks was relieved after throwing 105 pitches. Facing Octavio Dotel, Rockies second baseman Jeff Baker led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Yorvit Torrealba. After Omar Quintanilla hit a grounder to first for out No. 2, it appeared the White Sox were going to escape the inning unscathed.
But Willy Taveras hit a sharp ground ball to Paul Konerko that bounced off his glove and rolled into right field, breaking the scoreless stalemate and giving the Rockies the only run they would need.
They tacked on a second unearned run in the ninth, when Nick Masset fielded a grounder -- also off the bat of Taveras -- and threw the ball out of Konerko's reach at first.
Dotel (3-4) was charged with the loss.
Guillen was pleased with what he saw from Danks, even if he didn't have his best command.
"He battled like a champ," Guillen said. "He didn't have his best stuff, but he still went out there and performed. Sometimes, when you're a kid and don't have that much experience, that's good -- to resolve your own problems. And he's been doing that together with [Gavin] Floyd. That's what makes those kids special. When they get in trouble, they can get themselves out of trouble."
Indeed, Danks did get himself into quite a bit of trouble -- he must have if the Rockies came to the plate 15 times with runners in scoring position.
He stranded four runners at third in his six scoreless innings of work, giving up five hits and one walk. He struck out six.
"My arm felt great," Danks said. "I think it was the hardest stuff I was throwing all year . I finally got my changeup back; it's been three or four starts since I've had a consistent changeup. But the cutter and curveball were kind of hit-and-miss. I throw a good one and he'd foul it off or take it, and then I'd throw a bad one and it would get hit. Fortunately, they were hitting the balls right at guys and I was able to dodge some bullets tonight. It definitely was a struggle a little bit, but I felt a little more consistent than I did my last few times out."
Danks' ERA dropped to 2.90, good for fourth in the American League. But he knows he can't be putting runners in scoring position like that and expect to get out of it like he did Saturday.
"I need to work on that, I think," Danks said. "Because you're not going to be able to dodge that bullet too many times. You're playing with fire, leaving guys out there with less than two outs and a runner on third."
Taveras was stranded at third three times in the game, having stolen a career-high five bases. He never crossed home plate, though.
"Everyone knows where we stand with stolen bases here," said Pierzynski, who was told by Guillen not to even attempt a throw when Taveras stole third in the seventh. "It's one of those things where he gets on, you know he's gonna go, you just hope you have a chance. He's just that fast, where he just runs away from the ball. He's a tough out. That's why he hits leadoff and that's why so many teams covet leadoff guys."
With Minnesota's win, the White Sox (38-30) lead in the American League Central shrunk to 4 1/2 games. The offense is hitting just .155 in the past four games, and Saturday's shutout was the seventh of the season.
David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.