ANAHEIM, Calif. – The White Sox left Angel Stadium the same way they arrived – looking for a big hit.
For the third straight day, the struggling Sox couldn’t deliver. They let Jered Weaver escape in the first inning after loading the bases with one out, and got only four more hits the rest of the way Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Sox lead AL Central by one game after the Tigers were swept in a day-night doubleheader against Minnesota.
“Right now, it’s ‘Let’s get out of here, get home and a change of scenery can’t do us any worse,’ ” first baseman Paul Konerko said after the Sox’s fifth straight defeat.
“Everyone is playing hard and going about it the right way and there’s nothing wrong except the lack of results and the wins. We’ve just got to keep battling and keep fighting. Things go in cycles. Hopefully there’s a cycle that’s going to turn and it’s going to be good for us,” he said.
The Sox’s only run came in the seventh, when A.J. Pierzynski doubled, advanced on Weaver’s wild pitch and scored on Dayan Viciedo’s sacrifice fly. The Sox have only three hits in their past 42 at-bats with runners in scoring position and were 1 for 17 in the series against the Angels.
“You’ve just got to go out and play,” said third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who is 2 for 22 with no RBIs over his past seven games. “If you put pressure upon yourself, the game is going to get a lot worse. You have got to go out, have fun and try to win ballgames. A lot of guys are working their butt off to do that, and we’re just coming up short right now.”
Weaver’s AL-leading 19th victory didn’t come easily. The three-time All-Star needed 33 pitches to get through the first while batting through 94-degree heat. But he struck out Alex Rios at the end of an 11-pitch at-bat and retired Pierzynski on a grounder.
Rios came in batting .469 (30 for 64) with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, but was only 4 for 22 lifetime against Weaver (19-4).
“It felt like it was a million degrees out there,” Weaver said. “Having to throw upwards of 30 pitches in the first is obviously not what you want to do, but they made me work. That’s what their game plan was, and they did a good job of it.”
It could have been a lot worse, so it was good to come out of that first one unscathed and be able to extend it into the seventh.”
Gavin Floyd (10-11) gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings while striking out eight. The right-hander matched zeros with Weaver until the sixth, when the Angels erupted for four runs.
“I tried to execute pitches like I had been doing the past five innings and I think I just missed location,” Floyd said. “They were being aggressive early and they happened to get hits. Just hoping to get quick outs and doing the same thing I had been doing.”
Mike Trout walked with one out, Torii Hunter sent him to third with a hit-and-run single to left field, Albert Pujols lined the next pitch to left field to score both runners and Kendrys Morales followed with his 22nd homer on a 2-1 pitch.
“You walk the first guy — and not a good guy to walk because it puts a lot of pressure on you with Trout getting on base,” Floyd said. “Torii got the base hit, and it happened pretty quick. It wasn’t one of those drawn-out innings.”
Weaver established a career high for wins. He threw 113 pitches in 6 1-3 innings, allowing a run and five hits and dropping his ERA to 2.74. He finished his home slate 11-2, including a no-hitter against Minnesota on May 2.
Kevin Jepsen threw 1 2-3 scoreless innings in relief of Weaver. Garrett Richards, Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri each retired a batter in the ninth to close it out.
“It’s a bad weekend, but we are fine,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Again, it doesn’t mean we are out of anything. We’ll just continue playing. It’s not fun losing, but we still have a chance to take care of it ourselves.”
Pujols reached the 100-RBI mark for the 11th time in 12 big league seasons as the Angels remained 2˝ games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot.
NOTES: Three more home runs would give the White Sox at least 200 for the first time since 2008 and ninth time in franchise history — all in the last 13 seasons. ... Konerko, who is second on the White Sox’s all-time list behind Frank Thomas in homers, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits. is 2 for 22 lifetime against Weaver after going 1 for 2 with a walk. ... CF and leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza, who had the day off, has not grounded into a double play in 509 at-bats this season. ... Pierzynski surpassed the 1,000-inning mark behind the plate for the 11th straight season on Saturday night, extending the longest active streak at his position. ... Adam Dunn drew his major league-leading 100th walk, the eighth time he has reached triple digits. ... The Angels have won only five games all season in which they scored fewer than three runs, and five different pitchers started those games. Oddly enough, Weaver wasn’t one of them. ... The Angels have swept seven series of three or more games this season, and five of them have come since Aug. 20 — including a three-game set against Detroit on their previous homestand.