White Sox bats fall flat behind Danks
Lefty goes seven innings, but offense collects four hits
CHICAGO -- For weeks, even months, White Sox players have gushed about the hitter's ballpark that is U.S. Cellular Field in the summertime. They raved that the balmy Chicago weather historically had powered their bats and made balls cower in fear.
Sure, the hitting hadn't been there yet this season, they said, but wait until summer.
Well, summer is officially here in Chicago. The offense, meanwhile, still is not.
The White Sox lost, 5-2, against the Dodgers on Tuesday night in the South Siders' first game at home since summer arrived two days ago. And they looked much like they did in home contests during April and May.
Despite the humid and muggy conditions on top of weather in the low 80s on Tuesday, White Sox hitters finished the game 4-for-31. That output lowered their already-paltry .219 home average to .217.
The White Sox are hitting .280 on the road.
"If we could pinpoint it, we would have changed something a long time ago," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who finished Tuesday's game 0-for-3. "We're just not swinging the bat very well at home right now. It's weird. Usually, this is known as a pretty good place to hit, but lately it hasn't been, especially for us."
Part of Chicago's difficulty hitting on Tuesday came because of the performance of Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
Kuroda (2-3) picked up his first victory since Opening Day by going 8 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out a season-high nine batters and walking none. He had been winless in four starts since returning from the disabled list with a strained oblique.
Kuroda left after throwing 103 pitches and surrendering back-to-back hits with two outs in the ninth. Before then, he retired 16 consecutive White Sox hitters between the fourth and ninth innings.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he thought his team's offense might rise from its doldrums with the insertion into the lineup of both Jermaine Dye, who had been nagged previously by a left calf injury, and designated hitter Jim Thome, who sat out the last nine games in National League ballparks.
Instead, Guillen noted his team's inability to produce lengthy at-bats against Kuroda.
"He had 62 pitches in 10 innings," Guillen said, sarcastically. "I don't know why every time we come down here, it seems like everybody throws 70 pitches and gets out of here. It seems like we're too anxious or we've got the wrong plan."
The White Sox only two hits in the game's first eight innings came from Paul Konerko and Dye. In the bottom of the second, Konerko ripped 418-foot solo home run to left field. And in the fourth, Dye hit a one-out single to center.
Other than that, there was very little to cheer about. The Dodgers, who own the best record in the Major Leagues, jumped all over starting pitcher John Danks early to suck the life out of the announced crowd of 22,251.
Danks (5-6) produced his third consecutive quality start, lasting seven innings and allowing three runs on three hits while striking out five and walking two. He threw 105 pitches, 65 for strikes, but made a couple of critical mistakes in the game's first two innings.
"I don't know what the deal was," Danks said. "It was definitely frustrating. I didn't have real good command of anything. I would say I was effectively wild."
The Dodgers took the lead off Danks just three batters into the game. Rafael Furcal ripped a ground-rule double to center field and scored when Orlando Hudson followed with a double down the left-field line.
An inning later, James Loney launched a two-run home run into the right-field bullpen on a 1-2 pitch, his fifth homer of the season, to put the Dodgers ahead, 3-0. The blast scored Matt Kemp, who led off the second with a walk.
"It didn't do what I wanted it to do," Danks said of his pitch to Loney, a cutter that hung over the plate. "Obviously, that's the difference in the ballgame right there. We don't have a big hole in the eighth and ninth inning if I don't make that mistake."
The Dodgers (47-24) are one of only two teams more than 10 games above .500 this year and the only team more than 20 games above that mark.
Los Angeles scored two more runs in the eighth inning on a Casey Blake single to right field. The base knock plated Mitch Jones and Hudson, who were both in scoring position.
Earlier in the eighth, Guillen was thrown out of the game by home-plate umpire Joe West for arguing balls and strikes. Guillen took issue with a ball call on a close pitch delivered by relief pitcher Matt Thornton to Hudson on a 2-2 count. Guillen was tossed as he watched from the dugout. He then came out to argue, throwing what appeared to be his lineup card at home plate before he left.
It was Guillen's 18th career ejection as manager and his second this season. He also was ejected on May 13 at Cleveland.
"I don't think it's worth it, wasting my energy about that," Guillen said when asked about his conversation with West. "That's the weakest call I've ever had in my career, not just managing. Playing and coaching. I asked where the pitch was, and he didn't like my question. He kicked me out of the game. It's as simple as that. He big-leagued me, big time. I'm not going to say more because it might cost me one day without payment and one day without my ballclub."
One day without his ballclub on Tuesday, however, might not have been such a bad thing.
Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.