CHICAGO (AP) — Tampa Bay right-hander Jeremy Hellickson settled down after a rough first inning, but the Rays couldn’t bounce back from the early deficit and the Chicago White Sox claimed a 5-2 victory on Thursday night.
Taking the mound with a 1-0 lead, Hellickson (1-2) gave up three runs in the first inning.
Alejandro De Aza doubled leading off and scored on Jeff Keppinger’s double. Alex Rios walked and, one out later, Paul Konerko singled in the go-ahead run. Conor Gillaspie followed with a sacrifice fly to score Rios.
“The first inning was not sharp,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Everything was up and they took advantage. De Aza had the first hit and then Kepp hit one in the gap. They did a nice job of situational hitting in the first.
“(But) then he was really good. Fastball was down, changeup was down, curve was good.”
After sailing through four solid innings, Hellickson gave up two more runs in the sixth.
After Rios walked to lead off the sixth, Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer for a 5-2 lead. Dunn came into the game in a 7-for-70 slide.
“I don’t even care about Dunn’s home run, it was the walk to Rios before that that really set that whole thing up,” Maddon said. “Otherwise, from that first inning to the home run he pitched really well and a lot like he had looked his last couple of starts. That was the unfortunate part.”
Hellickson, who has allowed a cumulative eight runs in the first inning in five appearances this season, agreed with the assessment.
“Second to the fifth inning was as good as I’ve thrown,” Hellickson said. “Then I go out in the sixth and walk the leadoff guy and gave a pretty stupid pitch to Dunn right there. Then I settled down and it was a little too late by then.”
All five runs were earned. He also allowed five hits and four walks in six innings with eight strikeouts.
White Sox starter Chris Sale also overcame a shaky first inning to combine with two relievers on a five-hitter.
Desmond Jennings walked leading off the game and scored and scored on Evan Longoria’s single.
“It’s kind of one of the things I really need to work on, kind of controlling my emotions and stuff,” Sale said.
But the Chicago left-hander (2-2) settled down and won for the first time since opening day. He allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, struck out seven and worked around four walks.
“He ended up righting the ship and finally getting it in sync. … ” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s a good enough pitcher that he battled through it and got you where he need.”
Sale has 31 strikeouts in five appearances against the Rays. He is 11-3 with a 2.26 ERA at home in 17 starts dating to the beginning of the 2012 season.
Matt Lindstrom worked a scoreless eighth, then Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances for Chicago.
Jose Lobaton homered in the fourth for Tampa Bay, his first since Aug. 22. Lobaton was 2 for 2 with a walk.
Gillaspie was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Alexei Ramirez’s double into the left-field corner in the fourth. Longoria took the throw from Kelly Johnson and relayed to Lobaton at the plate.
“(Lobaton’s) homer and then a broken-bat single and play at the plate, he did a nice job,” Maddon said. “He’s going to sleep well tonight.”
NOTES: Rays SS Yunel Escobar was not in the lineup, a day after leaving a game against the Yankees in the seventh with tightness in his right hamstring. Rays manager Joe Maddon said he is unlikely to play Friday. … Chicago started four left-handed batters. Lefties entered hitting .278 against Hellickson, righties just .111. … Thursday was the Rays’ first game since April 15 against a team that didn’t reach last year’s playoffs. … White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham said his left hand “feels fine” and he is hoping to be back before his expected return in six weeks. Beckham had surgery last week for a broken hamate bone, injured April 9 in Washington. … Roberto Hernandez (1-3, 4.74 ERA) starts for Tampa Bay on Friday against Chicago’s Jake Peavy (2-1, 3.20). … Maddon brought a gnome modeled after him on the road for Tampa Bay’s trip. The gnomes were a giveaway for Wednesday’s game at Tampa Bay.