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Rodon strong again, but Angels tip White Sox 2-1

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Carlos Rodon had his second strong, lengthy start in a row against the Anaheim Angels, but it wasn’t quite good enough.

Albert Pujols homered in the second inning and C.J. Cron went deep in the seventh as the Angels defeated the Sox 2-1 Monday night. The Sox’ run against Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney came when Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella overthrew first baseman Cron trying to complete an inning-ending double play in the third, allowing Adam Eaton to score.

Rodon beat the Angels at U.S. Cellular Field last Tuesday, throwing what was a career seven innings without allowing a run while striking out a career high 11 batters in a 3-0 Sox victory. He struck out five and walked three while allowing four hits over eight innings to become the first Sox rookie to throw a complete game since Zach Stewart in September, 2011 and first Sox rookie left-hander since Wilson Alvarez in September, 1991 against the Indians.

Manager Robin Ventura and catcher Tyler Flowers both said Rodon was better than in his previous outing.

“It would be easy to say the other one [was better] but I thought he continues to show progress each and every time out,” Flowers said. “Today we were able to throw even more changeups in there, locating fastballs to both sides of the plate. That’s big for him, it opens up the slider-changeup mix later in the count.”

Rodon didn’t disagree.

“Last time I felt a little more electric,” Rodon said. “This time more control of the zone. Getting it over early and letting guys swing.”

“I thought he was pretty great all night,” Flowers said. “Call it two mistakes, but trying not to walk guys, throwing strikes, attack the zone, challenge them, trust the defense.”

Ventura liked the way Rodon responded to the home runs allowed. After Pujols led off the second with a homer, he retired the next three batters. After Cron homered with one out, he got Erick Aybar to fly out and then he struck out Giavotella.

“He’s been good the last couple but this one seemed like command-wise he was just grabbing it and getting going,” Ventura said. “That’s what we’re hoping to see a little bit more of.”

The Sox wasted Rodon’s effort by failing to capitalize on the couple of chances created against Heaney. Avisail Garcia doubled leading off the second followed by a Trayce Thompson walk. But Alexei Ramirez (pop-up), Tyler Saladino (fly out) and Flowers (strikeout) failed to get a run across.

Flowers batted in the sixth against Heaney with the bases loaded and two outs, a rally started after two were retired, but was called out on strikes by Ed Hickox on a 3-2 pitch. Flowers argued loudly, believing the pitch was low.

“That at-bat was taken away from me,” Flowers said. “I had two balls called strikes on me, the last one included, in what turns out to be the biggest situation in the game. That definitely should have been a 2-2 ballgame at least.”

 ”I don’t like blaming it on umpires but that one was taken away from me. I didn’t really have a chance.
“To battle and feel like you do everything right and then it’s taken away from you, yeah that kind of sucks. That’s my spot right there to contribute after not coming through the first time. That’s my spot and I felt like I did the job. Didn’t get the call.”
Trayce Thompson (single, walk) started in right field with Avisail Garcia at designated hitter as left-handed hitting Adam LaRoche sat out. LaRoche, who has one hit in his last 22 at-bats, pinch hit for Garcia (double, single) against sidewinding right-hander Joe Smith in the eighth inning and popped out.
“Smith’s tough on righties,” Ventura said.

The Sox (55-61), who swept the Angels in three games in Chicago last week, fell five behind the Orioles in the loss column for the second wild card spot as they opened a seven-game road trip.