OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — White Sox manager Robin Ventura questioned the effort of his players after a 5-1 loss to Arizona on Sunday in Chicago, and he spoke about the “uninspired” effort again before playing at Oakland on Monday night hoping for a spark.
All he could complain about after the latest loss is that the comeback came too late.
Jose Abreu hit his major-league leading 14th homer as the White Sox scored three runs in the ninth inning before falling 5-4 to the Oakland Athletics.
“It wasn’t a lack of trying. Sometimes you hit it and it’s right at people,” Ventura said.
Jesse Chavez struck out seven and came up an inning short of his first complete game to shut down the White Sox for most of the night.
Chavez (3-1) gave up five hits and walked two for the AL-West leading A’s, who have outscored opponents 28-8 while winning a season-high five straight games. The former reliever allowed only solo home runs to Dayan Viciedo and Abreu, whose drive leading off the ninth chased the right-hander.
Josh Donaldson hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fifth, and Josh Reddick hit a tying triple in the second off John Danks (3-3), who gave up six hits and three runs in six innings. Jed Lowrie added a two-run double in the seventh that proved pivotal after the White Sox scored three runs in the ninth.
Left-hander Sean Doolittle recorded the final three outs, striking out pinch-hitter Tyler Flowers and Leury Garcia to strand the tying runner on second.
“We don’t ever think we’re out of it,” first baseman Adam Dunn said. “We have an offense where we have proven that it doesn’t matter what the score is. For the most part, late in games we bear down and have good at-bats and we usually make it pretty interesting.”
Chicago, which has lost four of five, certainly made it interesting.
After Abreu’s homer, Fernando Abad walked Dunn. Then struggling Jim Johnson gave up a double to Viciedo and an RBI single to Alexei Ramirez, setting off another shower of boos.
Pinch-hitter Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly sliced Oakland’s lead to 5-4 before Doolittle struck out the final two batters for his second save this season.
“I think it was important for me tonight not getting caught up in the moment of trying to get the save and stop the bleeding,” Doolittle said.
The AL-West leading A’s, coming off a home sweep of Washington, added another layer of frustration for a Chicago team beginning a nine-game road trip that also stops in Houston and Kansas City.
The White Sox spent about eight hours on a plane Sunday night because of storms in Chicago that delayed their flight to the Bay Area, then played the late game on the West Coast.
They still started strong but wasted an opportunity to retake the lead when they advanced runners to second and third on Chavez’s wild pitch in the fifth. Conor Gillaspie hit a hard line drive with two outs — but right into center fielder Craig Gentry’s glove.
Then came Donaldson’s drive in the fifth, lining a 2-0 fastball into the seats in left for his eighth home run. Lowrie added a two-run double off reliever Daniel Webb in the seventh to stretch Oakland’s lead to 5-1.
Chavez kept inducing quick outs and nearly finished the game himself. He had never completed more than seven innings, which he has done three times this year.
Chavez has allowed one earned run or fewer in six of his eight starts this season. The A’s are a 7-1 when he pitches.
“We faced him in the spring. He’s good,” Dunn said. “He’s going to be around the strike zone. When a guy has that many pitches, you try to get him early. It didn’t work out.”
NOTES: White Sox LHP Chris Sale, out since April 17 because of a strained muscle near his left elbow, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday. ... Athletics CF Coco Crisp took swings in batting practice before sitting out for the fifth straight game with a strained neck. He is day to day. .... LHP Drew Pomeranz (2-1, 1.45 ERA) makes his second start for the A’s opposite Chicago’s Scott Carroll on Tuesday.