TORONTO -- The White Sox have dealt with plenty of adversity lately but Tuesday night’s 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays has the harshest sting.
Not only had the White Sox rallied three times and taken a late lead, they had their outstanding closer on to protect a two-run advantage. With Jeff Samardzija starting Wednesday afternoon, they had visions of a series victory -- albeit a hard-fought one -- in their sights.
Three batters later, those good feelings were dashed when Josh Donaldson drove a three-run, opposite-field home run off David Robertson. Donaldson’s second homer sent the White Sox to their seventh loss in eight tries and fourth in a row.
“It’s frustrating for me because the team played really well today,” said Robertson, who has converted nine of 11 saves. “They battled their butts off, got the lead back and for them to play as hard as they did today and for me to go in and give it up in the ninth is really tough. We needed this win.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura made it pretty clear how badly he wanted the victory when he called upon Robertson with a two-run lead and two outs in the eighth inning and a man on third.
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Robertson retired pinch hitter Russell Martin to strand the run. But he didn’t record any outs in the ninth as Josh Thole singled, Jose Reyes doubled him to third and Donaldson drove a 1-1 fastball out to right for the crushing defeat.
“Being a closer is an unforgiving position, especially if you don’t get it done,” Ventura said. “We trust him. We’re going to trust him again to go back out there and close it done. This is just one of those he didn’t get, but he’s the right guy to be in there. It’s a tough one.”
What makes it difficult is how the White Sox got to that position in the first place.
Unlike the previous eight games, when the offense produced 15 runs, the White Sox fought back all evening.
Trailing 7-6 in the eighth, Carlos Sanchez doubled and scored on Adam Eaton’s RBI single with Eaton advancing to second on the throw home. Melky Cabrera’s infield single put runners on the corners and Jose Abreu hit a slow chopper to the right side that -- after a challenged call showed he was safe -- put the White Sox ahead 8-7.
Adam LaRoche, who had two hits and reached four times, followed with a single to right and Alexei Ramirez singled in Abreu for a two-run lead.
Abreu’s eighth-inning RBI followed his first homer with a man on base since April 18. Trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Abreu ripped a 3-1 fastball from R.A. Dickey for a three-run homer. His last non-solo homer was April 18 in Detroit, a span of 138 plate appearances.
The White Sox scored twice in the second inning on four singles to take a 2-1 lead. Gordon Beckham had an RBI single and Sanchez had a sac fly. They also tied the score at 6 in the sixth inning on a Cabrera RBI fielder’s choice.
Their nine runs was the second-highest output of the season as the White Sox finished with 14 hits.
“Our guys fought back offensively, it’s a nice sign for us to do that,” Ventura said. “Not only against a knuckleballer but against everybody else. We got down and came back and you lose a tough one.”
White Sox starter John Danks was just as upset as Robertson after he surrendered the lead twice on two-run doubles by Jose Bautista.
Donaldson, who had a solo homer in the first, made the most of an extra out in the third. Abreu dropped a foul pop out after a long run and Donaldson doubled ahead of a two-out, two-run, ground-rule double by Bautista to make it 3-2.
Thole’s RBI double in the fifth off Danks cut the White Sox lead to 5-4.
Danks -- who gave up six earned runs and seven hits in five innings -- walked Donaldson with one out and Bautista doubled in two more runs to give the Jays a 6-5 lead. Bautista also had a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning off Jake Petricka.
“Any loss is frustrating, but those guys scored nine runs for us,” Danks said. “We know we can get on a run, we can win games. We just have to go out there and do it. Unfortunately, the different phases of our team aren’t clicking all at the same time consistently. We just have to keep on working at it, and hopefully it will pay off.”