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Sale struggles; Thornton's wild pitch dooms White Sox

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Sale struggles; Thornton's wild pitch dooms White Sox

LOS ANGELES -- The anticipated duel between Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale never materialized. Both aces folded midway through a seesaw game that went to the Los Angeles Dodgers because their relievers performed a little bit better than their counterparts on the Chicago White Sox.James Loney scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Matt Thornton in the eighth inning, and the Dodgers beat the White Sox 7-6 on Friday night in the opener of an interleague series between division leaders.Alex Rios hit his second homer of the game in the top half of the eighth, but the Dodgers went in front again in the bottom half.Loney started the winning rally with a one-out single against Thornton (2-4). Dee Gordon walked and Elian Herrera grounded into a fielder's choice, putting runners at the corners. Bobby Abreu batted for Ronald Belisario (2-0) and Gordon took off for second as Thornton's first pitch to Abreu bounced past A.J. Pierzynski."We weren't holding the guy on, so there was no need to rush the pitch," Pierzynski said. "He just made a bad pitch. It happens."Belisario pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory and Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 14 chances.Kershaw was charged with five runs - four earned - and eight hits over six innings with seven strikeouts."Baseball goes in cycles and it has its ups and downs," Kershaw said. "I mean, this game's not easy. Just because you had a couple of good starts, this game will continue to humble you. So you've just got to keep battling and competing."They have some big-name guys over there. The lack of familiarity didn't really bother me too much, but it's definitely different that facing the same teams in the NL West over and over again. That's for sure."Sale, trying to win his sixth straight start, took an AL-leading 2.05 ERA into his marquee matchup against Kershaw, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner. But Chicago's 23-year-old left-hander didn't get out of the sixth inning as the Dodgers rallied against Sale and Jesse Crain for five runs, giving them a 6-5 lead."Usually when we've had Sale on the mound, we're in pretty good shape. But they battled and just beat us," slugger Adam Dunn said.

Ivan De Jesus hit for Kershaw during the big rally and singled home a run to trim Chicago's lead to 5-3 after an RBI double by Juan Uribe. Gordon came up after De Jesus and bunted a line drive that tipped off the glove of first baseman Paul Konerko. But second baseman Gordon Beckham, heading toward first to cover on the botched sacrifice, was right there to catch it.At that point, rookie manager Robin Ventura replaced Sale with Crain, who gave up a tying two-run double by Herrera and an RBI single by Juan Rivera that gave the Dodgers their first lead. But Rios erased that advantage when he belted a leadoff drive in the eighth.Sale was charged with five runs, seven hits and a season-high four walks in 5 2-3 innings after allowing no more than three runs in any of his 11 previous major league starts."You feel good with him on the mound and a 5-1 lead in the sixth inning with the way he's been throwing, but tonight he just didn't get it done," Pierzynski said. "He walked too many guys. He walked Jerry Hairston three times, he walked Dee Gordon twice, and a couple other guys. That just can't happen. We were behind in the count on every guy."Dunn gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the first, driving an 0-2 pitch to right for his major league-leading 23rd homer and fourth of his career against Kershaw. The 12-year veteran has connected in each of his last five starts."Against a guy like Kershaw, if you can get early runs it's great," Dunn said. "He's obviously one of the best in the game, if not the best, so you try to be aggressive and try to get something you can hit because he's got so many good pitches. I fell behind 0-2, so I was just trying to put the ball in play and ran into one."The Dodgers also scored in the first when Gordon walked and came all the way around on Herrera's double. Herrera advanced on Pierzynski's sixth passed ball of the season, but was stranded when A.J. Ellis grounded out.The third inning began a string of three consecutive innings in which the White Sox scored one run. Konerko hit an RBI single, Alexei Ramirez scored on a throwing error by Gordon after he charged Orlando Hudson's infield hit to shortstop, and Rios added his seventh homer to make it 5-2.NOTES: Dunn has homered seven times in 74 at-at-bats against lefties, compared to none last season in 94 at-bats. ... Sale, who spent his two previous big league seasons as a reliever, batted in a regular-season game for the first time and had two strikeouts along with a sacrifice bunt. ... This is the sixth interleague series between the Dodgers and White Sox, who have shared the Camelback Ranch spring training facility at in Glendale, Ariz., since 2009. ... Kershaw's only other regular-season start against the White Sox was on June 26, 2008, when he pitched four innings in a 2-0 loss to John Danks at Dodger Stadium.Box scoreCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen offers his solution to PED use in baseball

Ozzie Guillen is not one to shy away from having a strong opinion about something.

On NBC Sports Chicago’s Baseball Night in Chicago show on Tuesday, Guillen gave his view on how Major League Baseball can stop the usage of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Major League Baseball, you want to cut this thing down?” Guillen said on the show. “You cancel the contract to this kid. Then you’re going to see that. You get caught one time, you’re banned from baseball, then you’re going to stop with that. Because if you’re going to make $200 million and lose $11 million? I’m going to do it.”

Guillen is going off the idea that a player who used PEDs to get a big contract only loses part of it when he eventually gets caught and suspended. Canceling the rest of a contract takes away some of the financial incentive to use PEDs.

“If you get caught when you are young and you try to survive in the game, well, I don’t agree with them, but you can survive in this game that way,” Guillen said. “You know how hard it is right now. How Major League Baseball is on the top of this thing, day in and day out. They’re not going to play around with this thing.”

Marlon Byrd, who was twice suspended for PED use, was also on the show and talked about his PED suspensions.

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

After a career year in 2017 and his first All-Star appearance, maybe Avisail Garcia has done enough to keep himself in the White Sox long-term plans.

But there was plenty of mystery over whether Garcia, who finally broke out after four mostly middling seasons on the South Side, could do it again this season. That question doesn’t have an answer right now, even nearly two months into the 2018 campaign, as Garcia begins his fifth week on the disabled list. His hamstring strain is serious enough that the White Sox announced over the weekend that he likely won’t be back in action until late June.

“No one likes to be injured, especially position players (who are used to) playing every day,” Garcia said Tuesday. “I don’t like to watch the game. I mean, I like it, but I like it when I’m playing. So it is what it is. I’m just watching, learning more because we’re learning every single day.

“It felt like it was going to be two weeks, but it’s taking longer. No one likes that, you know? No people like injuries. It is what it is, and I won’t try to take it too hard, just work hard and put everything together to come back to the field.”

This season figured to be an important one for Garcia, who is under team control through the 2019 season, slated to hit the free-agent market ahead of the 2020 campaign, the year many are looking at as the one where the White Sox ongoing rebuilding process will yield to contention. Will Garcia be around for that contention?

His 2018 production was supposed to go a long way toward answering that question. Perhaps a strong season could’ve earned him a new contract and locked him into place as the team’s future right fielder. Perhaps a fast start could’ve made him a potential midseason trade candidate and fetched a prospect or two that would’ve helped advance the rebuild.

Instead, Garcia started slow, as he’ll readily admit. His numbers aren’t at all good through his first 18 games of the season. He owns a .233/.250/.315 slash line, nowhere close to the .330/.380/.506 line he posted last year, when he was statistically one of the American League’s best hitters.

“Slow start, slow start,” he said. “I was feeling better a couple games before I got the injury. I was seeing the ball better, but baseball is like that. Sometimes you start good, sometimes you start slow, so it is what it is. We’ve gotta make adjustments as a team and try to get better every single day.

“But you know, that happens, I’ve just got to come back now and make adjustments and help my team win.”

A starting spot in the White Sox outfield of the future is anything but assured for any player these days. In addition to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert owning some of the highest prospect rankings in the game, guys like Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe have put up some impressive minor league numbers so far this season.

With all those youngsters doing what they’re doing, is there a place for Garcia? Or even if he were to produce well over the next two seasons, would the White Sox want to spend money to bring back a veteran when they have so many high-ceiling, low-cost players waiting in the wings?

It’s hard to answer those questions right now. Not only is it still early enough for Garcia’s fortune at the plate to change dramatically between now and the offseason, but his injury status throws a new wrinkle in the mix. Maybe it ends up making the White Sox decision easier than it would have been had Garcia’s performance been the lone factor here.

But for Garcia, 2018 remains about showing that he can replicate what he did a year ago. If he can’t — for whatever reason — maybe the keys to the outfield of the future get completely placed in the hands of those current minor leaguers. Until he returns from this injury, though, it's all a waiting game.