Rodon struggles in return as White Sox lose 6-4 to Twins
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) In May, the Chicago White Sox were dreaming of a possible playoff race with three left-handers anchoring the starting rotation.
One day away from the major-league trade deadline, Chicago is now a seller and uncertainty marks each of left-handers Carlos Rodon, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
Brian Dozier hit two home runs to spoil Rodon's first start since July 5, and the Minnesota Twins handed the White Sox a 6-4 loss on Sunday. Melky Cabrera had three hits for Chicago, which lost for the fourth time in five games.
''It's not an excuse,'' Rodon (2-8) said of his absence while recovering from a sprained left wrist. ''I just got to be better. A team scores four runs, you got to keep these guys at less than four, man, that's my job. I didn't do it today.''
The recent stretch only reinforced the White Sox trade-deadline position. Before the game, Chicago traded left-handed reliever Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals for speedy minor-league outfielder Charlie Tilson.
Sale and Quintana, meanwhile, have been mentioned in trade rumors leading into Monday's deadline after the team started 23-10 this season and had Sale looking like a Cy Young Award candidate.
The White Sox are 6-11 since the All-Star break after previously trading for starter James Shields and signing Justin Morneau as a free agent.
Rodon managed to last 6 1/3 innings in his return to the rotation but gave up five earned runs and eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Kennys Vargas hit a two-run homer as part of a three-run first inning for Minnesota.
''They jumped on him pretty good there early,'' Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. ''Probably knocked a little rust off, and get back into it. He battled back. Velocity-wise, he started getting a little stronger as the game went along. I think that's maybe par for the course for as long as he's been away, and still trying to feel for it somewhat.''
Rodon lost his fourth straight decision and allowed two home runs for the third straight start. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Rodon owns a 4.67 ERA and has giving up 14 earned runs in his last three starts.
''Not everybody gets it the first time through, that they become dominant,'' Ventura said. ''Stuff-wise, he's got some great stuff. You're going to have to find your way and I think that's part of what he's going through right now. He's a thrower, not a feel guy, he's just trying to rear back and let it go. Part of that is believing in that.''
Twins starter Ervin Santana (4-9) didn't allow a hit until Adam Eaton's leadoff bloop single in the fourth. Santana allowed three runs - one earned - in six innings with five strikeouts. Ryan Pressly gave up a double to Cabrera but recorded his first major-league save.
Cabrera was stranded at third base to end the game when Morneau struck out.
COUNTING ON CABRERA
Cabrera recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game and his 12th three-hit game of the season. He's hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games, hitting .385 during that stretch.
Cabrera has particularly enjoyed facing Minnesota, with a .429 average in 10 games against the Twins this season.
''He's so professional about the way he approaches things,'' Ventura said. ''He can pull it. He can hit it the other way. He's not trying to do too much, he's just putting it on the barrel and it's taking off.''
White Sox: Todd Frazier returned after missing two games with the flu. Manager Robin Ventura said Frazier was better but not feeling all the way back to 100 percent. Frazier started at first base and went 0 for 2 with two walks.
White Sox: Chicago begins a series at Detroit with RHP James Shields (5-12, 4.68 ERA) starting against RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-11, 6.56). Shields pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last outing.