ANAHEIM, Calif. – John Danks hadn’t allowed more than three runs in three August starts, but an unlikely opponent got him for three in the first inning, and the Anaheim Angels held on to defeat the White Sox 5-3 Tuesday night.
Danks, who went into the game with a 3.16 ERA over five career starts in Anaheim, hit Shane Victorino to open the first, then served up Kole Calhoun’s career-high 18th homer to quickly make it 2-0. One out later, Albert Pujols hit his 33rd homer to make it 3-0 before the sun had set over southern California.
Danks (6-10, 4.61 ERA) regrouped and pitched seven innings, allowing two more runs (one unearned on a Tyler Saladino throwing error) but was outpitched by Angels right-hander Garrett Richards (12-9, 3.50).
The Sox (55-62) lost their sixth consecutive road game and their second in a row to start a seven-game road trip.
“Against a guy like Richards, you can’t make too many mistakes and unfortunately I did,” Danks said.
“Just tried to get ahead of Calhoun. He ambushed a first pitch heater. You gotta tip your hat. He hit it certainly. It went a long way. Then I hung a breaking ball to Albert.”Danks was 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA over 19 innings in three August starts against the Yankees, Royals and Angels – whom he held to a run over 7 1/3 innings last Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. He had allowed only one homer in his previous eight starts before giving up the pair in the first inning.
The Sox out-hit the Angels 8-5.
“It’s frustrating when we have two-run ballgames, one-run ballgames,” said Adam Eaton, who was hitless in four at-bats, knocking in the Sox’ third run with a fielder’s choice ground ball. “We come back late [with a run in the sixth and a run in the eighth] but we fall short, it’s difficult.”
The Angels (62-57) currently hold the second wild card spot, and are five ahead of the Sox in the loss column.
“We know it’s there that we can continue to push but we just ran into a good pitcher tonight that had good stuff. Hats off to them for pitching it and a couple of key home runs for them, too.”
Aside from the home run balls, he was pleased with his 109-pitch effort.
“I feel great,” Danks said. “You know, the stuff is there. The arm is there. I feel extremely confident going into every start. Just kind of stings to still give up five runs or whatever it was on a night like tonight when I felt like I had pretty good stuff and pretty good command to go with it.”
Danks’ line: seven innings, five hits, five runs (four earned), one walk, three strikeouts, two homers.
Abreu settles back into 2-spot
Manager Robin Ventura returned Jose Abreu to the No. 2 spot in the batting order, a place he had been occupying for a while before Tyler Saladino was called up from AAA Charlotte.
Saladino batted ninth Tuesday, and Abreu second for the third straight game.
“That spot seems to come up a lot and you like him coming up maybe an extra time in the game,’’ Ventura said before the game. “I know the first time around, the most he can have on [base] is one but it seems like when we get in the middle of the game that spot seems to come up in big spots.’’
Sure enough, Abreu (3-for-4) singled twice and doubled in the Sox’ second run with two outs in the sixth inning. In the eighth, he came up as the tying run with two outs but grounded out against Joe Smith.
Tuesday was the 14th time Abreu batted second, where he is hitting .352 with two homers and six RBI.
Partial rest for Garcia
Avisail Garcia was the designated hitter for the second straight game, with J.B. Shuck playing right field.
“Just watching him, I think it’s useful for him to get off of his feet somewhat,’’ Ventura said.
Slumping left-handed hitting DH Adam LaRoche did not start for the second straight night, this time against right-hander Garrett Richards.
The Sox requested waivers on utility infielder and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. Bonifacio, who received a $4 million guaranteed contract for 2015, was designated for assignment Sunday after hitting .167 in 47 games.
*Conor Gillaspie, traded by the Sox last month for cash considerations, was designated for assignment by the Angels. Gillaspie batted .203 in 68 plate appearances over 17 games for the Angels.
Confidence in the Shark
Jeff Samardzija looks to shake his slump of three bad starts since the trade deadline, most recently six runs on nine hits over six innings against the Cubs Friday.
“There’s bumps in the road,’’ Ventura said. “I have the confidence in him that he’s going to be able to come out and be the guy that we were expecting when got him over here [in an offseason trade].’’
Samardzija, who will become a free agent after the season, can spruce up his portfolio with a good finish. He’s a so-so 8-8 with a so-so 4.78 ERA.
Ventura said Samardzija is fine physically.
“There’s nothing in there that you would think there’s a reason that’s holding him back,’’ Ventura said. “The best thing is, he still has confidence of going out there that he’s going to give you a good game, and that’s what you’re counting on.’’