Philip Humber was on top of the baseball world not long ago. Tonight, he could be pitching for his spot in the rotation when the Chicago White Sox continue a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Humber tossed a perfect game back on April 21, but has lost four of his five decisions since and has surrendered 10 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings in losing his last two starts. His latest setback came on Sunday against Houston, as he allowed six runs (5 earned) and six hits in 5 1/3 frames, dropping him to 2-4 on the year to go along with a 5.92 ERA.
"I felt like I made a lot of good pitches," said Humber, who recorded six straight outs via strikeout from the third to the fifth. "The ones that weren't good pitches left the ballpark. I just got a couple of pitches up."
He's pitched to a 7.50 ERA since hurling the 21st perfect game in major league history on April 21 in Seattle and has now yielded seven home runs over his last four starts.
"It's hard to work your way out of it if you don't pitch," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Whether that's as a starter or out of the bullpen, I don't know. But it has to get better."
Los Angeles, meanwhile, will counter with righty Chad Billingsley, who has been tremendous his last two times out after a nine-start winless stretch. Billingsley beat the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, holding them to a run and two hits over seven innings. He had given up a run in seven innings in Philadelphia his previous start.
"The key is getting my off-speed pitches over for strikes," Billingsley said. "I feel the same as I did four or five starts ago, but I'm throwing those curves and sliders and changeups over for strikes. When I'm not able to, it makes it harder to pitch."
The Dodgers picked up a win in Friday's opener when James Loney scored the deciding run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning, lifting Los Angeles to a 7-6 win. Elian Herrera had two hits, a career-high three RBI and a run scored for the Dodgers, who won for the fourth time in six games.
"My approach is the pitcher has to get me out," said Herrera. "I'm just looking for one pitch each at-bat and try to make good contact."
Ronald Belisario (2-0) earned the win despite allowing the tying run to score in the top of the eighth before Kenley Jansen tossed a perfect ninth for his 11th save of the year.
Matt Thornton (2-4) allowed the deciding run to cross the plate for Chicago, which dropped its third straight. Alex Rios homered twice while Adam Dunn also went deep in a losing effort.
Neither starter was very effective as Chris Sale allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings for Chicago and Clayton Kershaw was touched for five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits and two walks over six full frames for the Dodgers.
Chicago took two of three from the Dodgers last season and is 11-5 in the all-time matchup.