Unearned runs costly in White Sox’ fifth consecutive loss

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Derek Holland throws during the first inning Thursday. (AP Photo/David Banks)

First-year manager Rick Renteria has been pushing for a clean brand of baseball from his White Sox, and for the most part he has gotten that.

But not in Thursday night’s 7-6 loss to the Twins, which extended the Sox’ losing streak to five games. It also was their eighth loss in the last 10 games.

An error by first baseman Jose Abreu on a routine, belt-high return throw from second baseman Tyler Saladino on what should have been an inning-ending double play set up a four-run first for the Twins (17-14), who built an early 6-0 lead but were forced to bring in their closer before it was over.

The Sox, who scored two runs  in the fourth, could have had more, but Matt Davidson was easily thrown out at third by left fielder Eddie Rosario. Davidson, trying to advance from first with the play in front of him, admitted to knowing Rosario’s throwing skill.

“It was a little too aggressive,’’ he said.

When asked about Abreu’s shaky defense, Renteria went on the defensive by pointing to a difficult scoop Abreu made in the eighth inning.

“Did you like the pick with the strikeout?” Renteria said. “That comes with it, too. Actually, I like his defense. There are times when, like today, on the potential double play that ended up dropping out of his glove. We talked to him a little about the mitt that he uses, to be honest. He’s a good defender. In that particular moment, the ball got away from him.”

But starter Derek Holland (3-2, 2.43) took the responsibility for the loss after allowing three homers, including a three-run blast by former Sox Eduardo Escobar two batters after the error. Holland also allowed solo shots in the second to Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano.

“You don’t think like that,’’ Holland said. “Those guys are going to make the plays. I still have to make pitches after that no matter what happens. I know what the situation was, but overall I feel like it’s my fault more than anything. I didn’t execute the pitches after that, and that’s what put us in that bigger hole.’’

Holland allowed seven runs — three earned — six hits and four walks in five innings.

“I found what I needed to do to get back into a groove, but it wasn’t quite good enough,’’ he said.

The Sox got back in the game by nicking Phil Hughes for two runs in the fourth and got a three-run homer from Melky Cabrera in the fifth, then closed to within 7-6 in the sixth when Davidson hit his sixth homer of the season.

“I don’t know if I ever got the barrel up that high but I’ll take it,’’ said Davidson, who entered in a 2-for-27 rut, collected his first RBI of the night on a sharply hit fielder’s choice.

Brandon Kintzler recorded five outs, including getting Abreu (0-for-5) to end the game on a well-hit fly to right.

On the bright side, the Sox bullpen continued to shine, contributing four scoreless innings after Holland exited.

Anthony Swarzak (0.00 ERA) pitched two scoreless innings to extend his career-high scoreless streak to 16⅔ innings, and Tommy Kahnle extended his scoreless streak to nine innings.

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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