Five days after becoming an instant South Side star by shutting out the crosstown rival Cubs for seven innings, Carlos Torres was just another frustrated player on the off-and-on Chicago White Sox.
Torres recorded only two outs – the shortest outing by a Sox starter in more than six years – while giving up consecutive home runs to Jack Cust and Mark Ellis in Tuesday night’s 11-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
Chicago, which trails Detroit by 7 1/2 games in the AL Central, had just taken three of four from Boston.
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“That’s White Sox 2009,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “If you want to compete in any season, you beat the crap out of teams with a losing record and you fight against the other ones. We do totally opposite of what we should do.”
After taking consecutive series from the Yankees and Angels earlier this summer, the White Sox promptly lost two of three to Cleveland. They are 15-17 against the league’s three last-place teams – Oakland, Baltimore and Kansas City.
“It’s just been an up-and-down year. You can look at our record and tell,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of his 69-71 White Sox. “They came out swinging the bats and didn’t miss the mistakes, and when you fall behind that quick it’s tough to come out of it against any team. It doesn’t matter if they’re young or old or good or bad.”
Torres (1-1) opened his fourth career start by walking Adam Kennedy. He then gave up singles to Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney, loading the bases with nobody out. After Scott Hairston struck out and Kurt Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly, Cust hit his 21st homer of the season. Two pitches later, Ellis connected to make it 5-0 and chase Torres.
“I walked the first guy and started settling back in, throwing strikes, but then every ball that I threw over the plate got hit,” said Torres, who recorded only one more out than Neal Cotts did in an Aug. 28, 2003, loss to the Yankees.
Oakland, which has just its second three-game winning streak in three months, was glad to take advantage.
“The last couple of weeks, we’ve had a few games where we got behind early,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “It’s the first time we’ve been on the other end of that in a while, and it felt good to take a nice lead.”
Brett Tomko (4-3) allowed three runs on six hits in 5 1-3 innings and was the beneficiary of a 20-hit Oakland attack that included Ryan Sweeney‘s four singles.
“Anytime you get runs right off the bat, it makes it a little easier to pitch and you can be a little more aggressive,” Tomko said. “The guys just came in swinging.”
Sweeney, a one-time top White Sox prospect who went to the A’s in the 2008 Nick Swisher deal, scored three runs and drove in two more. Oakland’s No. 3 batters have combined to hit .218 this season but Sweeney is at .348 in his last five starts there.
Oakland took a 7-0 lead in the second, with Sweeney getting an RBI single and scoring on Hairston’s double as boos rained down on the home team.
Hairston doubled in another run in the fourth before the White Sox pulled to 8-2 in the bottom of the inning as Tomko hit Pierzynski on the elbow and gave up Mark Kotsay‘s two-run homer. Pierzynski stared at Tomko momentarily but went to first base without incident.
When Pierzynski and Tomko were San Francisco teammates in 2004, Tomko accused the catcher of being a clubhouse cancer. Before Tuesday’s game, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said: “If A.J. thinks Mr. Tomko hit him on purpose, he’s got my permission to kick his butt.”
Tomko said afterward he didn’t mean to hit Pierzynski, who said he doubted it was intentional.
Suzuki had an RBI double in the sixth, Davis singled in a run in the seventh and Sweeney added an RBI single in the ninth. Paul Konerko homered in the sixth for the White Sox.
NOTES: If White Sox RHP Jake Peavy has an effective, pain-free throwing session Wednesday, he could start as soon as this weekend, pitching coach Don Cooper said. Peavy, acquired from San Diego at the trading deadline, has been on the DL since June 13 with an ankle injury. He was just rounding into shape when he was struck on the right elbow by a line drive Aug. 29 in his fourth rehab start. … Suzuki is batting .320 on the road vs. .220 at home. … White Sox 3B Gordon Beckham missed his third straight game with a sore side and Guillen said he expected to rest the rookie Wednesday, too.