DETROIT — The White Sox hit three home runs on Friday night and had a lead through 6 1/2 innings.
But instead of win a back-and-forth game against the Detroit Tigers, the White Sox were left to lament a series of missed opportunities and a rough night from the bullpen.
Late solo home runs by Rajai Davis and J.D. Martinez, four runners left in scoring position and a popped up bunt sent the White Sox to a 5-4 defeat in front of 38,455 at Comerica Park. Jake Petricka allowed a game-tying solo shot to Davis in the seventh inning, and Zach Duke yielded Martinez’s game-winner in the eighth.
The White Sox — who got solo homers from Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Tyler Flowers — stranded runners on the corners in the ninth against Joakim Soria.
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“It seemed like every time we went up they just seemed to come back and strike quickly,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Any time you have that guy sitting right there, a couple of guys on, you’d like to see it get done. Tonight it didn’t.”
Even though he didn’t have his best stuff, Jose Quintana managed to survive six innings and left the game leading, 4-3. The Tigers knocked Quintana around for 11 hits but could never quite break through.
But with Quintana set to face the Tigers lineup for a fourth time, Ventura had to turn to the back end of a bullpen he’s used a lot the past 10 days. Petricka, who made his fourth appearance in six days, got ahead of Davis 0-2 in the count but left a changeup over the middle, and the leadoff man blasted it out to tie the game at 4.
An inning later, Martinez crushed a 1-0 pitch from Duke — who made his fifth appearance in seven days — to put Detroit ahead for good.
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“I felt good today, just made a mistake,” Duke said. “We want the ball. We want to be in there and protect leads and win games, and unfortunately I made a mistake and paid for it.”
The White Sox made things interesting in the ninth as they got runners on the corners with one out. But Carlos Sanchez popped up a safety squeeze bunt attempt, and Eaton grounded into a fielder’s choice.
“I was prepared for that situation, but I couldn’t execute it,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “It was a pitch inside right on my hands. Now I think the best decision was just to let the pitch go. But in that moment, you are trying to get the job done, and I couldn’t do it this time.”
Eaton put the White Sox ahead 1-0 in the first for a second straight game with a leadoff homer. Two innings later, Abreu broke a 1-all tie with his first homer since June 12, a span of 55 plate appearances. Melky Cabrera had a game-tying RBI triple in the sixth inning. Flowers hit a solo homer to start the seventh inning and break a 3-all tie.
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But in between, the White Sox missed out on several key opportunities. They stranded a runner on second base in the first and second innings and left Cabrera on third in the sixth even though there was only one out.
Avisail Garcia doubled to start the ninth with a double off Soria and moved to third on J.B. Shuck’s grounder. But the White Sox couldn’t get it done. They finished 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s just not good execution,” Ventura said. “You have to capitalize if you get some guys on.”