CHICAGO (AP) - With travel bags strewn all over the clubhouse, the Chicago White Sox scurried to the All-Star break Sunday with a three-game lead in the AL Central.
Their five-game winning streak was snapped in the final game before the respite as the Toronto Blue Jays hit four homers and five White Sox pitchers combined to yield nine walks in an 11-9 loss.
``I don't think many people expected us to be where we are at right now,' said Alex Rios, who had a three-run homer for Chicago. ``But we put it together. We've done a lot of good things in this first half.'
When play starts again Friday, the White Sox will be on the road for 10 straight games - Kansas City, Boston and Detroit - and that swing will test what they've built and perhaps determine if they will still be the front runners They headed to the break with a 47-38 record
``We're not going to think about anything else. We're just going to play the game,' Rios said. ``We don't have to worry about anything else. If we play the game like we're playing, we're going to be in a good position.'
Chicago got behind early Sunday when Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion had two-run homers in the first and could never catch up. Kelly Johnson and Jeff Mathis also connected for Toronto on a windy day at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago manager Robin Ventura was ejected in the top of the ninth after charging to the plate to heatedly argue a ball and strike call with home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn.
``Yeah he had to let him know. Had to let him know,' Rios said of Ventura's ejection. Ventura had argued in the sixth when Jose Bautista hit a ball past third that was touched by a fan for a ground rule double. Umpires ruled that a running Rasmus, who'd been on first, was allowed to score on the play.
Ventura was not available to comment after the game because he had to catch a flight for the break - something that was announced before the game.
Before the game, Ventura said his first year as manager had been an enjoyable experience because of the way the club had performed and carried itself.
``I don't think anybody is overachieving. I just think guys are playing to their capabilities,' he said.
``I' m in a place I want to be, with a staff I enjoy being around and I think the players have been great. I got a good group. I got lucky.'
Chicago started Dylan Axelrod on three days rest Sunday and he gave up three of the four homers. It would have been Chris Sale's turn in the rotation, but the White Sox decided to skip their ace lefty's last start before the break and he is expected to throw an inning in Tuesday night's All-Star game
Axelrod gave up six hits and seven runs in his three innings before Mathis greeted reliever Brian Omogrosso with a solo homer in the fourth, making it 8-3.
``You just got to get ground balls. I got behind in some counts and grooved some balls over the plate. And that's what good hitters do,' Axelrod said.
Jason Frasor (1-1), the third of five Blue Jays' relievers, was credited with the win and Casey Janssen pitched the final 1 2-3 innings for his 12th save in 13 chances. He gave up two ninth-inning singles before striking out De Aza to end it.
``I was just telling the trainers, five outs seems like forever. I got used to getting three. It was all right,' Janssen said.
``I've obviously done it before in my career, it was just a little different than the last month or so.'
Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion had two-run homers following walks with Rasmus' blast just eluding a leaping Alejandro De Aza in center field.
``It's nice when we can swing and outslug the opponents, but it's tough to do that every day,' said Toronto's Rajai Davis, who had three stolen bases. `` We're looking forward to getting it done on defense and having a better second half.'
Toronto finished the first half 43-43.
Notes: White Sox RHP Jake Peavy was named as a late injury replacement to the All-Star team for the Angels' C.J. Wilson. Peavy had lost out in the Final Vote balloting earlier in the week to Texas' Yu Darvish. ... Rios tied a career high with his four RBIs. ...... Kevin Youkilis had an RBI double in the sixth, giving him 14 RBIs in his first 13 games with Chicago. ... After the game the White Sox optioned right-hander Duente Heath back to Triple-A Charlotte. He did not appear in a game since being recalled July 4.
The Associated Press News Service
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