By Dave van Dyck, Chicago Tribune reporter
11:05 p.m. CDT, August 4, 2012
When the White Sox opted for a six-man rotation, it was with the idea that all starters would hold up their end and throw at least six quality innings.
The six-man rotation may save the arms of the starters but it can burn out the arms of the relievers.
And that is why the starts of Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber — two pitchers who have had control issues — have become so important for the Sox.
Floyd started Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Angels, putting the Sox in an early uphill battle that eventually saw their lead over the Tigers in the American League Central dwindle to only 11/2 games, despite Kevin Youkilis' two home runs.
Floyd lasted 61/3 innings, giving up eight hits, two hit batters and a wild pitch. He left with a two-run deficit, just like Humber had the night before in 51/3 innings before the Sox rallied to win.
Because of the red-hot Sox offense and the bullpen, both were spared losses.
Manager Robin Ventura tried to nudge each into the middle innings "because there aren't a lot of options."
"Every starter who goes out there, you're limited in what you can do if they don't make it through four (innings)," Ventura said. "It puts you in a tight spot to really go through a six-man. Every starter becomes important. They have to go five and then hopefully six to be able to get somewhere in that bullpen that you can finish out a game." The bullpen eventually lost Saturday's game, with Friday winner Matt Thornton allowing the Angels' run in the 10th on a double from Alberto Callaspo and Howie Kendrick's single.
Saturday's game started 21 minutes late because of rain, but Floyd started even later.
He hit the first Angels' batter, then gave up a pair of hits and walked three batters before "escaping" with only three runs.
And while Youkilis' first home run got the Sox on the board in the bottom of the inning, Floyd wild-pitched home a fourth Angels' run in the second.
"I try not to be frustrated," Floyd said. "When it's happening like that, you just keep telling yourself one pitch at a time, you can easy get out of this. I found a groove but obviously it'd be nice to do it from the beginning."
The Sox closed to 4-3 in the sixth on A.J. Pierzynski's homer, his fourth in four days and 20th of the year. The last Sox catcher to hit 20 homers in a season was Ron Karkovice in 1993.
"It's nice to look up (on the scoreboard) and see 20 in early August," Pierzynski said. "I'm surprised to say the least but I'm just happy we're winning games and in first place."
Pierzynski's solo shot was negated an inning later when Albert Pujols ended Floyd's night with a homer into the left field stands.
But Youkilis' second homer, this one off reliever LaTroy Hawkins in the seventh, tied the game. It was his first multi-homer game since Sept. 28, 2009 with the Red Sox.
But in the end, it turned into the Sox's second loss in their last 11 one-run games.
"Those are tough games," Ventura said. "We play a lot of close games. This is not anything new for us. That's just the way we play, we play a lot of close games. They're not always going to go your way."
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