CINCINNATI — The All-Star balloting totals came rolling in again Monday, and that only could mean one thing for Jose Abreu: a visit from the media to talk about how nice it must be to be leading American League first basemen and how great it would be to play in the Midsummer Classic.
Reporters following the White Sox these days have to dig a little to find positive news and notes, and Abreu was an easy mark — especially on a day when the team said outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez (adductor muscle, two weeks) and Luis Robert (thumb, four to eight weeks) would miss time in the minors with injuries and found another way to blow another lead and lose another game with another mistake playing a part in it.
Abreu is thankful for the All-Star love, but he said before the Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park that he’s not exactly earning it lately. He is coming off what he called the worst month of his career.
‘‘Absolutely,’’ said Abreu, who batted .212 in June. ‘‘I’m glad that’s in the past. This is a new month.’’
Abreu’s July got off to a three-RBI start in the Sox’ 10-5 victory Sunday against the Rangers. On Monday, though, he fouled a pitch from the Reds’ Luis Castillo off his left ankle and left the game after making a nice catch on a line drive to end a perfect sixth inning for James Shields (6 2/3 innings, one run), who continues to pitch well enough that he likely will be traded by the end of the month.
Shields, who was strong after a rocky first that included a leadoff home run by Scott Schebler, left after 88 pitches with a 2-1 lead. Yoan Moncada supplied a rare RBI double batting right-handed, and Yolmer Sanchez singled him home in the seventh.
Matt Davidson, Abreu’s replacement at first, figured in the poor decision and/or execution that set up the Reds’ decisive four-run eighth. He got greedy in an effort to get two outs after fielding a bases-loaded grounder by Adam Duvall, trying to step on first and throw home to get Scooter Gennett. But Davidson missed the bag and Gennett beat the throw to the plate to cut the Sox’ lead to 3-2. A sacrifice fly by Billy Hamilton tied the score, and a two-run double by pinch hitter Alex Blandino broke the tie.
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‘‘I read it right, and then I kind of just rushed myself and made a mistake and didn’t touch the base and threw it home,’’ Davidson said.
‘‘That’s an experience he’ll have to bear,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘It’s not like he wanted to go out there and screw that play up.’’
Reliever Chris Volstad (5.01 ERA), Renteria’s best right-handed late-inning option before closer Joakim Soria, was charged with four runs in the inning.
On the plus side for the Sox, Avisail Garcia homered for the fourth time in seven games to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games and Shields lowered his ERA to 3.15 in his last 10 starts.
‘‘Shields did a great job,’’ Renteria said.
The bullpen and the defense? Not so much.
‘‘We were in the ballgame to the end there,’’ Shields said. ‘‘Unfortunately, we made some mistakes there [and] lost the game.’’
The loss was the fourth in the last five games for the Sox (29-55), who might have to try to win Tuesday without Abreu. He was reluctant to talk about leading the AL All-Star balloting at first but was thankful nonetheless.
‘‘I am thankful for their support,’’ Abreu said of the fans. ‘‘And I’m just really grateful, especially in this year, for the All-Star voting.’’