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White Sox scoreless streak reaches 32 in 1-0 loss to Angels

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher James Shields throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 16, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Something happened to the White Sox over the All-Star break, although they started to zone out before that during a weekend series against the Atlanta Braves.

While losing two of three to halt a streak of five straight series wins, the Sox didn’t score in the last 13 innings against the last-place Braves before going on vacation. Since they came back, they have been shut out twice in two nights by the last-place Los Angeles Angels to run their streak of scoreless innings to 32.

The All-Star break is an anticipated and needed one during the daily grind of a season that begins in February in spring training. But there are traps. Just ask the Sox’ secretary of energy, Brett Lawrie.

“It has its plusses and minuses,’’ Lawrie said before the Sox were blanked by Matt Shoemaker in a 1-0 loss Saturday to the Angels. “Four days can trick you a little bit as a player and kind of get in that offseason mode for a few days, and you have to get back into it. Or you can take it as a break to kick your feet up and get a little energy back.

“For me I would rather continue to play. Your body is used to doing the same thing every single day of playing, playing, playing and once you don’t do that your body is like ‘What’s going on?’ and you try to ramp it up again and you have to get the wheels spinning again. When you’re playing good baseball as a group and there’s good flow in the clubhouse you want to keep that going.’’

Teams that don’t hit look flat whether they are into it or not, and the Sox — who were shut out in three straight games for the first time since 1968 — certainly looked the part against Matt Shoemaker, who recorded a career high 13 strikeouts. Shoemaker (5-9) went the distance and ended it by striking out Todd Frazier and Justin Morneau after the Sox put runners on the corners with a double by Adam Eaton and a single by Melky Cabrera.

“Offensively we’re struggling and we have to figure out a way to put some runs on the board,” manager Robin Ventura said, “especially with what Gonzo [Miguel Gonzalez] did last night [two earned runs over six innings] and what Shields did tonight.’’

Shields pitched eight innings of one-run ball, allowing two hits and two walks for his fourth consecutive quality start and fifth good one overall. Over his last four he is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA.

The Sox had a few other chances besides that golden opportunity in the ninth, but not as good. Jose Abreu turned on two fastballs and doubled in his first two at-bats but Cabrera rolled out to shortstop in the first to leave him stranded and flied to left field before Frazier looked at strike three to leave Abreu at second in the fourth.

Todd Frazier reacts after striking out during the seventh inning aganst Matt Shoemaker in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Todd Frazier reacts after striking out during the seventh inning aganst Matt Shoemaker in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

When Eaton reached on an infield single and stole second in the sixth with two outs, Abreu chased a low pitch for strike three. Cabrera led off the seventh with a single but Frazier (0-for-4, three strikeouts) struck out, Morneau made good contact for the third straight time lining out to center and Lawrie (0-for-3, two strikeouts) grounded to third.

The Sox’ scoreless streak was the seventh in since 1912 of 30 innings or more, according to STATS and at 32 is tied for fourth all-time with the 1958 team and seven innings short of the record 39 set in 1968.

Shields gave up a triple to Yunel Escobar leading off the first and a double to Ji-Man Choi in the eighth. He struck out two and walked two. Escobar’s triple in the twilight glanced off center fielder J.B. Shuck’s glove near the wall. He scored on Mike Trout’s soft grounder to second.

“There’s not many times the leadoff hitter decides the game,’’ Shields said. “It’s a tough loss today. We have to move on. We have to start playing better baseball right now.

“We were playing well before the break and we’re going to get back on track tomorrow. We’re a good squad.’’