CHICAGO – Alex Rios figures to be one of the White Sox’s best trading chips, but that didn’t factor into manager Robin Ventura pulling Rios in the seventh inning Friday night after not hustling on a double play ball.
Brian McCann hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to break open a tie game, and the Atlanta Braves started the second half of the season with a 6-4 victory over the Sox on Friday night.
Braves starter Tim Hudson (7-7) earned his third straight win after a 10-start winless streak. He pitched 71/3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking two. Craig Kimbrell pitched the ninth for his 27th save in 29 outings.
Sox starter John Danks (2-7) took his seventh loss in his past 10 starts. Danks pitched seven innings, allowing all five Atlanta runs on seven hits, including homers by McCann and Andrelton Simmons. He struck out four and walked none.
The Sox had a good chance to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth. Alejandro De Aza and Alexei Ramirez had back-to-back one-out singles, putting runners at first and third. Rios’ grounder to shortstop was bobbled by Simmons, but he recovered in time to turn an inning-ending double play. Ventura didn’t appreciate Rios’ effort getting down the line.
“There is just expectations, and we are not starting the second half off that way,” Ventura said. “It was simple, he will back in [Saturday]. Tonight, that’s what happens when you don’t run.”
Many league scouts were in attendance as the Sox trail the Tigers by 14 games in the AL Central. That didn’t deter Ventura from making a statement by pulling the eight-year veteran.
“He knows. It’s pretty simple. The other stuff, I am just worried about our team and how we go about it, and he knows,” said Ventura.
Rios was not available to the media after the game.
An inning later, McCann hit a three-run homer off Danks to put the Braves ahead 5-2.
“Made a bad pitch, kind of got to the point, for a lack of better way of putting it, ran out of things to throw to him,” said Danks. “He’s a good hitter. He’s been around a while doing what he does. Obviously he’s been an all-star. He did what all-stars do to bad pitches.”
Atlanta, which ended the first half of the schedule losing two of three, snapped a five-game interleague losing streak to the White Sox.
Hudson won his first game at US Cellular Field. He was 0-3 with a 10.45 ERA in four previous starts.
“Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten a win here, about 15 years. I hadn’t fared too well over the years, I don’t think I have a lot of games pitched here, but when I have pitched here it hasn’t been too pretty at times. It’s nice to finally get in the right column. It was still close, it was never easy, but a win’s a win,” said Hudson.
It was the Sox’s eighth loss in its last 11 games, 22 of 31 and 32 of 45. The Sox are 19 games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 27, 2007, when they were 70-89.
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Chris Johnson, who had three hits, led off with a single and scored on Simmons’ ninth home run, to left field.
The Sox tied the score in the third. Gordon Beckham led off with a single, but was forced at second on a fielder’s choice by Josh Phegley. Ramirez singled, his first of three hits, advancing Phegley to second, and Rios followed with a two-run double deep to right-center field.
The Braves broke open the game with a three-run sixth. Joey Terdoslavich and Justin Upton both had singles and then advanced to second and third on a wild pitch by Danks. McCann then hit a two-out, 3-2 pitch for his 13th home run.
Sox scored two runs in the eighth to get within 5-4. De Aza led off with a walk and stole second. He and scored on Ramirez’s RBI double to left. Jeff Keppinger’s bloop single to right scored Ramirez.
The Braves added an insurance run in the ninth when Upton singled off Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom, went to second on an infield out and scored on Johnson’s single to right.
NOTES: White Sox RHP Jesse Crain threw on the sideline Friday and hopes to return from a strained right shoulder in about a week. He’s been on the DL since July 3. ... White Sox OF Dewayne Wise was returned to Triple-A Charlotte due to a strained right hamstring. The White Sox also signed INF Travis Ishikawa and assigned him to Charlotte. ... Before the game, White Sox RHP Jake Peavy was activated from the DL. He is Saturday’s scheduled starter.