Key mistakes ruin otherwise great offensive effort by Michna in Rush OT loss to San Jose.

Chicago Sky

SAN JOSE—The trend of the Chicago Rush never winning a regular season game in San Jose continues. Despite never trailing in regulation, the Rush (6-4) forfeited the lead when it mattered most and lost 84-77 to the San Jose SaberCats (8-3) in overtime in front of 9,036 fans at the HP Pavilion. This one was too much loss the loss at San Antonio 4 weeks ago.
With one minute left in the fourth quarter and the SaberCats driving, Mark Grieb threw a pass towards the end zone that was intercepted by Rush defensive back Brian Lainhart. Up eight points at the time, Chicago appeared to need only a few positive plays to walk out of San Jose with a victory. However, a negative rushing play by Michna would stop the clock per AFL rules and Luke Drone’s fourth down fumble of a snap to turn the ball over on downs with 26 seconds left allowed San Jose one last opportunity.
Giving SaberCats veteran quarterback Mark Grieb another chance proved to be devastating as he hit WR Samora Goodson (10 catches, 120 yards, 3 TD) for an 11-yard touchdown. Still needing the two-point conversion, Grieb surveyed to find reliable James Roe (7 catches, 108 yards, 3 TD) to notch the game at 70.
A heroic 47-yard touchdown bomb from Russ Michna to Jared Perry deflated the San Jose crowd with 20 seconds remaining putting the Rush up 77-70, but Grieb once again worked his magic to find Huey Whittaker for a touchdown with 10 seconds left to force overtime.
With the Rush deciding to defer in overtime, they began on defense and couldn’t stop the SaberCats from scoring.Former Rush Fullback Johnie Kirton (28 total yards) tortured his former team for three touchdown runs on the night, the third of which gave San Jose their first lead of the night five quarters into the contest.
A 25-yard kickoff return by Reggie Gray, along with a five-yard penalty by San Jose gave the Rush the ball at the SaberCats 21-yard line. Great field position wouldn’t matter though, as Vince Hill stepped in front of a pass intended for Jared Perry and intercepted Michna in the end zone to seal the SaberCats eighth win of the year.
“On the road you have to zero in on a mentality that the game is never over. We had too many breakdowns after the interception (by Lainhart) with a minute to play and it allowed (San Jose) to take advantage,” stated Rush Head Coach Bob McMillen.
An overtime interception was the first mistake by Michna all night, as he was sharp to the tune of 351 yards and 8 touchdown passes. Reaping the benefits of his play were wide receivers Gray (9 catches, 131 yards, 4 total TD), Perry (8 catches, 137 yards, 3 TD) and Terrance Turner (5 catches, 49 yards, 1 TD). Even offensive lineman T.J. Watkins rolled his 330 pounds down the field for an 18-yard screen pass score from the hand of Michna.
A secondary without Vic Hall had its share of ups and downs. Newcomer Brandon Brinkley led the Rush with 8 tackles and numerous pass breakups on way to defensive player of the game, but was responsible for giving up the 28-yard touchdown pass to Huey Whittaker (5 catches, 91 yards, 3 TD) that forced overtime.
Another Rush newcomer, defensive lineman Cedric McKinley tallied one sack and a blocked extra point, but committed two penalties that extended San Jose drives.
Semaj Moody impacted the game by recovering a second quarter kickoff for a touchdown giving the Rush a 14-point lead, as well as securing a fourth quarter onside kick attempt by the SaberCats when the Rush was only leading by a point.
“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t put them away,” mentioned Rush QB Russ Michna.
Three separate times in the game the Rush put up 14-point leads. Nonetheless, each time San Jose answered back to chop it back to within one score.
San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb totaled the most ever passing touchdowns (9) and yards (417) an opposing passer has put up against the Rush in their history. The 84 points by the SaberCats are the most a Rush team has ever given up.
New kicker Joe Houston tied the franchise record with 11 extra points, but missed two field goals including the 54-yard potential game winner with two seconds left.
The Rush’s fourth loss of the season holds importance as they have now lost to San Antonio (8-3), Arizona (8-3) and San Jose (8-3). Those three teams are all ahead of the Rush in playoff positioning and it forces a pivotal matchup when they return to Allstate Arena June 3rd at 3pm to take on the Spokane Shock (6-4).

Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – CHI Reggie Gray

Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – CHI Brandon Brinkley

JLS Ironman of the Game – SJ Huey Whittaker

AFL Playmaker of the Game – SJ James Roe

Cutters Catch of the Game – SJ Huey Whittaker’s 28-yard TD catch to tie the game with 10 seconds left

Spalding Highlight of the Game – SJ James Roe third quarter touchdown catch to pass Barry Wagner for fourth all-time in AFL history

National Guard MVP – CHI Russ Michna


Sox take advantage of stripped down Tribe lineup, win again 14-7

Dayan Viciedo homered in his third straight game, Konerko had four hits, and the White Sox pounded Derek Lowe and the short-handed Cleveland Indians 14-7 Saturday for their eighth win in nine games. The Sox scored four in the first and four more while chasing Lowe in the third after Cleveland scored five in the top half. Viciedo’s two-run homer made it 8-5, and the White Sox pulled away late after Cleveland got within one, tying a season high with their fourth straight win. They now trail the first-place Indians by just 1½ games in the AL Central and will try to complete the sweep on Sunday, after another impressive day at the plate. They set season highs for hits (17) and runs and have scored 81 over the past 12 games. Alex Rios had three hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth after being robbed of a three-run drive by center fielder Michael Brantley in the first. Viciedo also had three hits and drove in five runs, and Paul Konerko came up big again, just as he’s been doing.

“I feel like I’m going to go to work when I go up there,” he said. “That’s all I feel. I feel like I’m going to work when I’m up there. I try to trust what I’m doing, but that could change. [If there’s] something you trusted on a couple of pitches and you don’t trust it on one, that can be the one pitch that makes an out. I’m just trying to trust what I’m doing up there.”

Konerko had three doubles while raising his average from .381 to .396 and extending his hitting streak to 12 games, drove in two runs and scored three. With the White Sox clinging to an 8-7 lead, he led off a four-run seventh with a walk and came around when shortstop Juan Diaz mishandled the throw from Brantley on Rios’ double to left-center. Viciedo singled in a run and the White Sox got two more with one out and the bases loaded, when Alejandro De Aza forced a runner at second with a grounder to short and Casey Kotchman dropped the throw to first. That made it 12-7 and, finally, allowed the White Sox to exhale on a day when it looked like they might cruise to an easy victory.

Lowe (6-3) simply didn’t have it. He lasted just 2 1/3 innings in his shortest start this season and watched his ERA jump from an American League-leading 2.15 to 3.25 after giving up eight runs — the most for him since he allowed eight early last August against Washington when he was with Atlanta.

“Sometimes you just stink and there’s no reason to analyze the game,” he said. “When you stink, you stink. It was a bad time for a really bad game.”

Jake Peavy (6-1) wasn’t much better, though.

“I tried to do every last bit I could to keep us in the game,” Peavy said. “It wasn’t pretty out there, but a win’s a win.”

He gave up a pair of two-run homers to Chicago-area product Jason Kipnis and allowed seven runs in all while struggling through 6 1/3 innings even though the Indians were missing the middle of their order. With Travis Hafner already sidelined because of inflammation in his right knee, Cleveland took two more big hits after Carlos Santana (mild concussion) and Asdrubal Cabrera (tight left hamstring) left Friday’s game.Both players were out of the lineup on Saturday, with manager Manny Acta saying Santana is likely headed to the seven-day concussion list and Cabrera is day to day.

“The game works in a mysterious way,” Acta said. “I really thought we were going to struggle to score runs with our lineup, and it went the other way around.”


NOTES—Brantley’s catch on Rios was one for the highlight reel. He raced back and leaped in stride, his elbow touching the yellow stripe on top of the wall as he reached up to snag what would have been a homer. … Hafner will be re-evaluated on Monday. Although Acta didn’t completely rule it out, he downplayed the possibility of surgery for the slugger. “It’s obviously a consideration for everyone that is hurt,” Acta said…. White Sox 3B Brent Morel took some swings and some grounders before the game for the first time since he went on the disabled list earlier in the week because of a strained back. He said he’ll travel with the team to Tampa after this series and probably go on a minor league rehab assignment after that. “We’ve got to see how it feels the next couple of days, and then we’ll go from there,” he said. “It’s all just how it feels. If it feels fine, I’ll be able to do more every day.”


Cubs don’t HIT much, but did HIT Bucs Hague with bases loaded in 9th for 11th straight loss.

PITTSBURGH—Matt Hague never dreamed his first winning RBI in the majors would feel like this. His initial reaction? More pain than jubilation. After all, taking a 96 mph fastball in the side can hurt. Hague was hit by a pitch from Rafael Dolis with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates sent the Chicago Cubs to their 11th straight loss with a 3-2 victory Saturday night.Hague took a 2-2 fastball from Dolis (2-4) in the left side below the rib cage, scoring Jose Tabata and eliciting an incredulous look to the sky by the Cubs reliever. Hague felt better than the Cubs, who are enduring their longest losing streak in 15 years. This is the 11th time in their 137-year history that they have lost at least 11 games in a row.

“You are not going to win too many games when you score two runs,” Dale Sveum said.

None of the previous 10 defeats in this losing streak came this way. Indeed, few of the 9,809 previous losses in Cubs’ history ended like this.Dolis also walked Josh Harrison and Neil Walker earlier in the ninth after Tabata had singled to lead off the inning.The punchless Cubs offense continued to struggle, managing six hits against Kevin Correia and three relievers. Closer Joel Hanrahan (2-0) had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth. Alfonso Soriano homered and Starlin Castro had an RBI triple for the Cubs, who have scored eight runs in their past six games. Andrew McCutchen reached base four times and scored a run for Pittsburgh, which has taken the first two games of this series despite scoring a total of four runs. Longtime Pirates starter Paul Maholm received a no-decision in his first game against his former club. Twenty-two of the Pirates’ 46 games this season have been decided by one run, and Pittsburgh improved to 13-9 in such contests. The Cubs intentionally walked McCutchen with a runner at second and one out of a scoreless game in the third. McCutchen has reached base in 33 consecutive games played against the Cubs. Pedro Alvarez followed with a single to center, scoring Tabata. Walker then drove McCutchen home with a sacrifice fly. Soriano’s homer to right-center in the fourth, his fifth, snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak for the Cubs. They entered the fourth having scored during four of their previous 59 innings but made it two consecutive in the fifth when Castro had their first hit with runners in scoring position in 27 at-bats over five days. David DeJesus doubled with two outs and Castro followed with a triple to right to tie it at 2. The PNC Park career leader in starts, victories, strikeouts and innings, Maholm was pulled after five innings (94 pitches). He was charged with two runs on four hits and five walks with two strikeouts in five innings.

“Obviously, I wanted to do well and pitch longer than five innings,” Maholm said. “It’s not like they hit balls tonight. I knew that they were a pretty aggressive team and trying to take advantage of it. Most of the pitches were too far out of the zone for them to chase.”

Correia allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Correia had lost his previous five starts. He started a game Pittsburgh won for the first time since April 24.Even if it did come in the most unusual of ways.

“That guy (Dolis) was kind of hit-or-miss, so (a hit batter) is always a possibility,” Correia said. “I’m sure Hague is hurting. That guy throws pretty hard. To get that one straight in the ribs, he had to earn that RBI.”

NOTES—Soriano’s home run broke a 17-inning scoreless streak by Pirates pitchers. … Harrison’s hitting streak ended at 10 games. … The Pirates have allowed two or fewer runs in 15 of 23 home games this season. … In the series finale Sunday, Pirates LHP Erik Bedard (2-5, 3.52) faces RHP Matt Garza (2-2, 3.72). Garza pitched seven shutout innings in his only previous outing at PNC Park, Aug. 3, 2011.

Cubs again fail to score for Dempster, lose 10th straight 1-0 to Bucs

PITTSBURGH—Pedro Alvarez is in the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup every day because of his bat.Turns out, the third baseman’s feet — not to mention his glove — work too.Alvarez scored on an unconventional slide in the second inning for the game’s only run and turned in a couple of defensive gems to help the Pirates to a 1-0 victory over the Cubs on Friday.

“I try to be ready every time on defense and anticipate the ball being hit to me,” Alvarez said. “Like I’ve said before, I take a lot of pride in my defense.”

A.J. Burnett and four relievers sent the listless Cubs to their 10th straight loss by surviving on a night the Pirates allowed 10 hits and ran into trouble in just about every inning.Burnett (3-2) gave up six hits, struck out six and walked two over 5 1/3 innings and the National League’s best bullpen made it stand up as Pittsburgh extended starter Ryan Dempster’s misery. Joel Hanrahan worked out of a two-on, one out jam in the ninth for his 11th save.Dempster (0-3) remains winless since last August, surrendering one run and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking one while dropping his ERA to 2.14.Still, it wasn’t enough to keep the Cubs from posting their first 10-game losing streak since dropping the first 14 games of the 1997 season.The Visitors left 11 runners on base and went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Pittsburgh wasn’t much better but only needed Rod Barajas’ RBI-single that scored Alvarez to beat the floundering Cubs.

“It’s unbelievable,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We out-hit the opponent every night and can’t score. We can’t seem to get that hit with men in scoring position.”

The Cubs started the season 13-11 but have sunk to the bottom of the NL Central thanks to an offense that has stopped producing. They have scored just four runs in their last 56 innings.

“I’m a little lost for words now,” Sveum said. “It’s kind of the same thing. But guys are battling, having decent, good at-bats – just not finalizing it, really. A lot of good at-bats, just not getting it done.”

The Northsiders had plenty of chances, putting at least one runner in scoring position in all but two innings, but Burnett relied on his slider and his defense to wiggle free on a night where he labored to get through the Cubs struggling lineup.Burnett needed 105 pitches to get 16 outs and took advantage of some nifty glovework by Alvarez, who saved at least one run in the fifth by making a diving stab of a sharp grounder by Joe Mather then firing to first to end the inning as the Cubs came up empty with runners on second and third.

“The defense was big,” Burnett said. “They saved a couple of them and I was able to find my hook for a batter or two.”

The Cubs threatened again an inning later only to run itself out of a two-on, one-out situation when Alfonso Soriano crashed into Alvarez trying to move from second to third on a groundball by Darwin Barney. Soriano was called out due to runners’ interference and reliever Jared Hughes got Koyle Hill to ground meekly to second to end the threat.The Cubs ran out of chances once the Pirates got to their bullpen, which leads the National League in ERA. Jason Grilli struck out the side in the seventh, Juan Cruz picked off Tony Campana at second base to cut short a rally in the eighth before Hanrahan took over in the ninth.The Cubs put runners on the corners with one out on singles by Barney and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson but Hanrahan struck out David DeJesus and Starlin Castro to end it.

“Runners on the corners, you’re thinking `How you going to get out of it?”‘ Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “[Hanrahan] showed you how to get out, you get ahead and throw strikes.”

The loss was more of the same for Dempster, who hasn’t won in a stretch of 17 starts. He’s been among the best pitchers in the NL this season, but has been undone by a lack of run support.The Cubs have scored just 16 runs in Dempster’s eight starts this season.

“It’s hard for us — 10 games in a row is not a lot of fun,” Dempster said. “It doesn’t make coming to the ballpark fun, it doesn’t make going out there and playing fun. We’ve just got to fight through it.”

NOTES—Pittsburgh RF Josh Harrison went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games…..Carlos Marmol could be activated off the DL on Monday. Marmol hasn’t pitched since May 11 due to a strained right hamstring….Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens will start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday as he continues to rehab from a right shoulder inflammation…..The series continues Saturday, with Paul Maholm (4-3, 4.73 ERA) facing Pittsburgh’s Kevin Correia (1-5, 4.50). Maholm spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Pirates before signing with the Cubs during the offseason.

Sox pound Tribe 9-3, now trail by 2 1/2 games

Adam Dunn hit his 15th homer, A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo each went deep for the second time in as many nights, and the White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 9-3 on Friday for their seventh win in eight games.Pierzynski also tripled and scored three runs while driving in two. Viciedo knocked in two runs and scored twice, and the White Sox gave Jose Quintana (1-0) all the support he needed in his first major league start.They used the long ball again to take out the AL Central leaders after hitting five homers Thursday against Minnesota. Dunn drove a two-run shot in the first after Cleveland scored a run in the top half. Pierzynski connected leading off the second, and Chicago broke open a one-run game in the sixth, scoring three times with two outs while chasing Jeanmar Gomez (3-3).Alexei Ramirez knocked him out with an RBI single after Pierzynski and Viciedo walked, and Alejandro De Aza drove in two more runs with a bases loaded single off Jairo Asencio to make it 6-2, sending Cleveland to its third loss in 11 games.The White Sox added three more with two outs in the seventh, with Alex Rios reaching on an error and scoring on Pierzynski’s triple and Viciedo hitting a two-run homer.It’s not what the Indians envisioned after sweeping a three-game series from Detroit, the team many thought would win the division. But the second-place White Sox are looking good at the moment.They swept the Cubs, took two of three from Minnesota, and they didn’t blink with the scheduling taking a tougher turn, pulling within 2 1/2 games of Cleveland on Friday.The White Sox called up Quintana from Triple-A Charlotte with John Danks going on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left shoulder, and he came through with a solid outing.The 23-year-old left-hander allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. He wasn’t quite as dominant against the Indians this time, after pitching 5 2-3 scoreless innings of relief against them in his only other appearance on May 7, but he was good enough.Gomez simply had a rough night, giving up six runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings.

NOTES—Cabrera was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth because of tightness in his left hamstring. … The Indians called up SS Juan Diaz from Double-A Akron and optioned starting pitcher Zach McAllister to Triple-A Columbus. Manager Manny Acta said Diaz will likely be sent back to the minors on Monday, when pitcher Josh Tomlin (sore right wrist) is expected to be activated from the 15-day DL. Tomlin threw a 50-pitch bullpen session Thursday and reported no pain. … Travis Hafner underwent an MRI on Thursday on his right knee and took an anti-inflammatory for irritation in the meniscus. He did not travel to Chicago. … White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham made a neat play in the third when he raced back to make a sliding catch on Carlos Santana’s foul down the right-field line. … Jake Peavy starts Saturday for the Sox, with Derek Lowe going for the Indians.

Sox outhomer Twins,take advantage of two more Minnesota errors to take rubber match 11-8

Paul Konerko and Alex Rios hit back-to-back homers and Alejandro De Aza added a grand slam to cap a six-run sixth, leading the White Sox to an 11-8 victory over the Minnesota Twinson Thursday night.A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo also went deep as the White Sox won for the sixth time in seven games.Konerko had two hits and drove in two runs. Rios also had two hits and knocked in three, and the Sox pulled this one out even though Philip Humber couldn’t protect an early 4-1 lead.The Twins knocked him out during a four-run fifth, sending 10 batters to the plate. Joe Mauer homered in the inning and Brian Dozier capped the rally with a two-run single to give Minnesota a 5-4 lead, but the debuting Cole De Vries couldn’t hold it.Konerko and Rios chased him with back-to-back homers to left leading off the sixth, putting the Sox back on top, and they kept pouring it on from there.They loaded the bases with one out against Brian Duensing before De Aza, who had an earlier homer wiped out by instant replay, drove a 1-0 pitch over the right-field bullpen to make it 10-5. The grand slam was the first of his career and the first by the White Sox since Rios hit one against Cleveland on Sept. 10, 2011.The big rally made a winner of Nate Jones (2-0), who allowed two hits over 1 2-3 innings. He came in for Humber in the fifth and immediately gave up that two-run single by Dozier, but the White Sox came out on top, anyway.They had their way with De Vries (0-1), who grew up near Minneapolis and played for the University of Minnesota. The 27-year-old right-hander gave up six runs – three earned – and six hits.He was shaky right from the start. Pierzynski drove a solo homer off the right-field pole in the second and the White Sox added to their lead in the third after Alexi Casilla booted De Aza’s grounder to second with one out. Konerko extended his hitting streak to 10 with an RBI single, and Rios added a two-run double to make it 4-1.Humber still hasn’t won since his perfect game against Seattle on April 21 and the right-hander is 0-2 in his last six starts after allowing five runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.Justin Morneau hit two late homers for Minnesota – a leadoff homer against Will Ohman in the seventh and a two-run drive against Addison Reed in the ninth.

NOTES—Throwing off the mound and from the stretch, Snoop Dogg delivered the first pitch. The rapper was in the area for a concert. … Asked his favorite Snoop song, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said, “I don’t know. They’re always X-ed out. All the words are X-ed out, so I don’t know. I don’t know how to read those.” … The Twins held Ryan Doumit (right calf) out of the lineup so Mauer could serve as the DH. Doumit is not ready to play the field yet. “He felt it a little bit last night, he’s been legging out some doubles,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I told him to take it easy, but you always know once you get playing in a game and you see something, you’re going to go for it. He was a little bit stiffer last night after the game. I backed him off today.” Gardenhire said he wants to see Doumit catch some bullpen sessions and run the bases before using him in the field.

Sox even up with Twins as Sale wins 6-0


In his first season as a starter, Chris Sale is settling in nicely. Sale pitched seven sharp innings and Paul Konerko and Alex Rios backed him with home runs, leading the White Sox to a 6-0 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night. Sale (5-2) held the Twins to two hits and two walks, striking out six. He has allowed three runs or less in all eight of his starts in his first year as a member of the rotation.

“Part of pitching is finding a groove and rolling with it,” Sale said. “I felt early that I got into a groove and A.J. [Pierzynski] back there calling one of the best games I’ve seen him call in a while. It was fun to be out there.”

Still showing a black eye after getting hit in the face by a pitch last Friday, Konerko had three hits and scored three times.

“It’s only when I look in the mirror that I can see something is wrong with it,” he said.

Konerko connected in the seventh for his ninth home run of the season. He’s hitting .548 (17 of 31) during a nine-game hitting streak and his .381 average for the season is two points better than Texas’ Josh Hamilton for the AL lead.

“You’re always grinding out there,” Konerko said. “I had one good swing the whole night, a really good swing at the end there that turns into a home run.”

Rios sent a two-run homer into the Twins’ bullpen in left field in the fourth, his first home run since April 7 at Texas.

“I think he’s been swinging it pretty good and not really hitting home runs,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Just approach-wise he’s been looking good at the plate, putting in his work and feeling comfortable at the plate.”

The White Sox recorded their fifth shutout of the season and have won five of six, they had lost 9-2 to Minnesota on Tuesday.

“These guys are resilient,” Ventura said. “They find a way to come back and as difficult as yesterday was all the way around to be able to bounce back and put together a game like this all the way around, pitching and the offense, is nice to see.”

The Twins entered the game with the worst record in the AL, but had gone 5-1 on their current road trip. They hurt themselves by making three errors, setting up three unearned runs — Minnesota had committed just one error in its previous eight games. Minnesota has been shut out eight times this season.

“Sale was really good on us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He didn’t give us much of a chance. Our defense, which has been playing really good, as talked about before the ballgame — I think we jinxed ourselves.”

Scott Diamond (3-1) allowing five runs, only two of them earned, and gave up a season-high nine hits. He left the game with a 1.78 ERA this season.

“He threw the ball well,” Gardenhire said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make some plays behind him. We made him throw some extra pitches and made him work a little bit harder.”

Sale permitted just one runner past first base and was aided by a pair of double plays. He’s made a seamless return to the rotation over his last three outings after a brief shift to the bullpen, the team’s response to his elbow soreness.

“I felt like I was commanding my fastball well and I threw the changeup for strikes more so than I have been,” he said.

The Sox scored an unearned run in the first on Adam Dunn’s RBI single, helped by an error from second baseman Jamey Carroll. The White Sox tacked on two more unearned runs in the sixth on an RBI double by Pierzynski and an RBI groundout by Orlando Hudson, with right fielder Darin Mastroianni dropping a fly ball during the inning.

NOTES—Joe Mauer reached base three times for Minnesota on a single and a pair of walks. He has reached base in 13 of his past 18 plate appearances. … Hudson made his first career start at third base. … Ventura said that rookie Addison Reed is now his full-time closer. Reed has converted all four of his save opportunities this season.


Nine straight for Cubs, swept by Astros

HOUSTON—Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez didn’t have his best stuff Wednesday night.The way the Cubs are playing lately, it was still good enough for a win.J.D. Martinez had three hits and three RBI to back up seven solid innings by Rodriguez and the Astros got a 5-1 victory against the Cubs to complete the three-game sweep and give the Cubs their longest losing streak in more than a decade.The Cubs have lost nine straight for the first time since dropping the same number of games from May 8-18 2002. Rodriguez (4-4) allowed eight hits and a run and struck out five. The victory is the 77th of his career, moving him into sole possession of second place in franchise history for wins by a left-hander.

“Wandy said he didn’t have his good fastball today,” Houston manager Brad Mills said. “He just didn’t feel like it was coming out of his hand real good.”

Rodriguez said when he was unable to locate his fastball he relied on his curveball to get through this start.

“I [came] back with my breaking ball and I [saw] with my breaking ball I can do whatever I want and throw in my spot — in and out,” he said. “I used it a lot.”

Starter Jeff Samardzija (4-3) yielded six hits and two runs with four strikeouts in six innings. He hopes the team will be able to grow from this slump.

“It’s a learning experience, so we need to take everything that’s going on right now and remember it in the long run once we figure out how to bounce out of it,” he said.

The Cubs were up 1-0 in the fourth inning before Martinez’s triple, which fell as Darwin Barney and David DeJesus bumped into each other and tumbled to the ground trying to make the catch, put Houston on top 2-1.

“I saw the right fielder running and I was like: `It’s going to have a chance. He’s going to have to make a nice play on it,”‘ Martinez said. “I just continued to run right out of the box and was just fortunate it fell.”

Barney lamented his inability to make the play.

“Jeff was pitching really well and had good command of his stuff and that was a turning point in the game,” he said. “It was really unfortunate that it happened that way.”

It was the second consecutive night that Martinez drove in the go-ahead run after hitting an RBI single in the sixth inning of Tuesday night’s 2-1 win.

His two-out RBI single to center field in the eighth inning off reliever Rafael Dolis added an insurance run for the Astros. Dolis walked the next two batters to send another run home, before plunking Jose Altuve to allow Martinez to score.

Martinez, who added a single in the sixth, is rebounding from a tough month at the plate, with four of his nine hits and four of six RBIs in May coming in the last two games.

“I feel about the same,” he said. “I just wasn’t missing pitches tonight. In the past, I felt like I was fouling those pitches off and I just wasn’t doing that tonight.”

Cubs manager Dave Sveum missed Wednesday’s game to attend the high school graduation of his son, Rustin. Bench coach Jamie Quirk managed the game with him away, but was unable to help the Cubs to a win for the first time since May 14.

“It’s getting very tough,” Quirk said. “This game is so mental because day in and day out, it keeps coming at you. Obviously, you wipe it away and show up the next day wanting to win, but losing is never fun.”

Reed Johnson provided the Cubs only score on a solo home run in the first inning. Samardzija didn’t allow a hit until Jason Castro doubled with one out in the third inning. Altuve walked with two outs, but Jed Lowrie struck out to end the threat. Johnson put the Cubs on top with his solo home run to the Crawford Boxes in left field with one out in the first inning. When Houston didn’t score in the first, it left the Cubs ahead at the end of an inning for the first time in 60 innings.

NOTES—Houston CF Jordan Schafer was out of the lineup after having part of the toenail on his right big toe removed on Wednesday. Schafer injured the toe last week when he fouled a ball of it. Mills expects him to be better in a couple of days. … Both teams are off on Thursday before Houston opens a series at the Dodgers and the Cubs start one in Pittsburgh on Friday. …Carlos Marmol, on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, pitched a simulated game on Wednesday and could pitch for Triple-A Iowa on Friday, Quirk said.

Astros edge Cubs 2-1, eight losses in a row, now worst in MLB.


HOUSTON—J.D. Martinez has had a bad month at the plate. The Houston Astros hope his big hit on Tuesday night will help turn things around. Martinez had the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning and Jose Altuve had a solo homer to give the Houston Astros a 2-1 win over the Cubs.The loss extends their losing skid to a season-long eight games. Martinez hit .282 in April, but is 6 for 50 in May to drop his average to .219. The Cubs have not had the lead in any game since last Wednesday.

“There’s no doubt that he’s probably been pressing a little bit and trying to do a few things and it was a big hit,” Houston manager Brad Mills said. “To come through at that time of the game and get that hit is definitely something (good).”

The hit by Martinez was the first for Houston since the first inning, but Justin Maxwell and Carlos Lee both drew two-out walks before it to set up the score.

“I was glad I was able to come through for the team tonight,” Martinez said. “I know they’ve been behind me and they’ve been pushing me.”

Houston starter J.A. Happ (4-3) allowed five hits and a run in six innings for the win. Closer Brett Myers pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save. Alfonso Soriano led off the fourth inning with a solo shot to left-center field that tied it at 1-1. The home run marked the first time in four games that the Cubs had scored before the ninth inning. Soriano has had four homers in the last eight games, but is unhappy that none of those scores have helped the Cubs to a victory.

“The more important thing is to get wins,” he said. “I don’t know what we have to do to win one game and hit more, because right now we are struggling.”

Altuve hit a leadoff home run to put Houston up early. It was his second career leadoff homer after his first career home run was an inside-the-park home run on August 20. Jed Lowrie followed with a ground-rule double before Cubs starter Travis Wood (0-1) settled down and retired the next eight batters. Lowrie walked with two outs in the third inning before Wood sat down the next nine Astros. He got some help from his defense on the second out in the sixth inning when Soriano robbed Lowrie of a hit with a nifty catch in left field. After the catch Soriano took the ball out of his glove and planted a kiss on it before throwing it back in. Maxwell’s walk after Soriano’s catch chased Wood. He was replaced by Shawn Camp, who walked Lee before allowing Martinez’s single to shallow right field. Wood allowed two hits and two runs with three strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings in his second major league start of the season. He was recalled from Triple-A Iowa before Tuesday’s game. Houston third baseman Chris Johnson was ejected after slamming his helmet on the ground and arguing a call at first base in the fourth inning. With the game tied at 1-1, Johnson hit a ground ball to shortstop Starlin Castro, who made a diving stop and whose throw to first appeared to barely beat Johnson. Johnson was called out to end the inning and immediately ripped off his helmet and slammed in to the ground while yelling at first base umpire Tim Tschida.He was quickly thrown out of the game and was replaced Matt Downs for the fifth inning.

“I shouldn’t have thrown my helmet,” Johnson said. “I didn’t say anything, it was just the helmet and he was (like): `See ya later.”‘

Reliever Wesley Wright pitched 1 1-3 hitless innings for Houston after Happ left before he was replaced by Wilton Lopez.Lopez got into a jam in the eighth after allowing a single to Reed Johnson with one out. Johnson was replaced by pinch-runner Tony Campana, who went from first to third on an error by Lopez on a pickoff attempt.The throw to third base arrived in time, but Downs had to leave the bag and go low to catch it, allowing Campana to dive over him Superman-style and crawl back to the base safely. Campana’s teammates were impressed with the play.

“That was unbelievable,” Soriano said. “That (dive) that he made, that gave us the opportunity to tie the game, but we came up short.”

Lopez ended the threat by striking out Castro and Soriano.

“The strikeouts are huge there,” Mills said. “To do a job like that was absolutely outstanding.”

NOTES—The Cubs placed C Welington Castillo on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee to make room on the roster for Wood. … Dale Sveum said he will miss Wednesday’s game to attend his son’s high school graduation in Arizona. Bench coach Jamie Quirk will fill in while he’s gone. … Houston center fielder Jordan Schafer returned to the lineup after missing the past two games with a right leg injury. … Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow donned a uniform and scanned tickets at the gate and spent time as an usher on Tuesday night as part of the team’s fan friendly initiatives. … The Astros have signed RHP Armando Galarraga to a minor league contract and he will work out at the team’s spring training facility in Florida until he’s ready to join Triple-A Oklahoma City. Galarraga is best remembered for pitching a near perfect game which was ruined by an incorrect call in June 2010 for the Tigers against Cleveland.




Twins bring Sox back to Earth 9-2

  • After a weekend of being overused, the Minnesota Twins got a night off courtesy of P.J. Walters.Walters tossed his first career complete game and Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer as the Twins routed the White Sox 9-2 on Tuesday night.

“My bullpen was smiling when they came in shaking hands. We haven’t seen that very much around here,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “(Walters) ate up a whole ballgame’s worth of innings, which really helps your bullpen out. We’ve really been beat up out there.”

Five relievers combined to throw 6 1-3 innings in the Twins’ 16-4 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday, and five were used for an inning apiece in Saturday’s 11-inning win.

“The goal of the night is to always keep them out of there,” Walters said. “To have yesterday off and then the day off, that’s good rest for a few of them.”

Walters (2-1) cruised in his third start of the season to snap the Sox four-game winning streak. He gave up a solo homer to Gordon Beckham with one out in the first inning, but allowed little else.Two batters after Beckham’s home run, Paul Konerko doubled off Walters, then the 27-year-old right-hander didn’t allow another hit until Konerko singled with one out in the seventh.Walters let the leadoff man reach in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but used his off-speed pitches to induce double plays each time to erase any potential threat.

“(My changeup) was a good pitch for me early in the game,” he said. “My breaking ball got better for me later in the game, so I used it more at the end. It definitely got me a few ground balls early in the game that were big for us.”

Walters struck out eight and allowed just five hits and two runs.Morneau’s leadoff walk in the second started the four-run rally, and his fourth-inning blast capped the five-run fourth for the Twins, who have won five of their last six games.Minnesota’s offense came to life early, sending nine men to the plate in the second inning against Gavin Floyd. Alexi Casilla’s two-run double put the Twins on the board, and Jamey Carroll and Denard Span followed with run-scoring singles.They continued to pour it on in the fourth. Floyd intentionally walked Joe Mauer with two outs to load the bases for Josh Willingham, who laced a 3-1 pitch under shortstop Alexei Ramirez’s glove to drive in two runs. Morneau pulled the next pitch over the right field wall to put Minnesota up 9-1.

“Morneau had a big night,” Gardenhire said. “I know his home run was big, but I thought leading off the second inning with that walk after getting behind in the count was huge. It led to four runs.”

Floyd (3-5) took a seat after Morneau’s homer. He was charged with nine runs and eight hits over 3 2-3 innings.He dropped to 0-8 in his last eight starts against Minnesota dating to Aug. 31, 2009.

“I wish I could pinpoint certain things,” Floyd said. “”They have a good game plan against me apparently and I’ve got to change that and try to get them next time.”

It was the second consecutive miserable outing for Floyd, who gave up seven runs and 10 hits to the Angels last Wednesday.Konerko finished with two hits in his return to the lineup. He missed two games due to a laceration and swelling over his left eye from being hit by a pitch on Friday night against the Cubs.He drove in the Sox second run with an RBI groundout in the ninth.The White Sox had beaten the Twins in eight of their last 10 meetings overall, but fell to 3-11 in their last 14 home games against Minnesota.Beckham’s homer was his fifth of the season, all coming this month. It was his third in the last four games.

NOTES—The White Sox placed 3B Brent Morel (lumbar back strain) on the 15-day DL and signed INF Orlando Hudson to a one-year contract covering the remainder of the 2012 season….. Minnesota designated one time Cub RHP Jason Marquis for assignment and selected the contract of RHP Cole DeVries from Triple-A Rochester. DeVries will start Thursday in his major league debut.. Scott Diamond (3-0, 1.40 ERA) goes for the Twins on Wednesday against Chris Sale (4-2, 2.91).