CHICAGO – Of several gaffes the Oakland Athletics made on Sunday, there was one that stuck out to manager Bob Melvin: failing to cover home plate in the seventh inning.
"The play was embarrassing, obviously," Melvin said after a 7-3 defeat to the Chicago White Sox. "Wasn't our best defensive day."
Oakland made three errors and fell 6½ games behind the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West. The A's lost two of three in the weekend series and could be losing third baseman Brandon Inge to the disabled list.
A.J. Pierzynski scored from first on Alexei Ramirez's seventh-inning groundout to shortstop, as third baseman Adam Rosales and shortstop Cliff Pennington bumped on the play. No one was at the plate, with catcher Derek Norris scrambling to third as Pierzynski.
"We didn't cover that very well, so that doesn't sit very well with anybody," Melvin said.
Pennington had two throwing errors as Oakland lost for the fifth time in eight games.
To make things worse, the A's announced after the game that Inge, who separated his shoulder on Saturday, could miss an extended period of time. Inge will fly back to Oakland to have an MRI on Monday. It's uncertain if a trip to the disabled list is imminent.
"The only report I want to hear is if there's anything I could damage that could be long-term," Inge said. "If there's nothing on film that shows that I can't hurt anything, it's play through the pain — whatever I can tolerate. I'd rather that than anything else. Fifteen days for me feels like an eternity."
Inge has provided a veteran presence to a young, inexperienced team, which has stayed in contention in the AL wild-card race.
"We put a lot of weight on his shoulders," Jonny Gomes said. "We're not letting balls go between our legs or throwing to the wrong base, just baseball mistakes that we rely on Brandon for. We've been winning a lot of games taking advantage of mistakes. At the same time, that's how we lose games."
Chris Sale (14-3) struck out 11 in 6 2-3 innings and Pierzynski hit a two-run homer in a five-run sixth for the White Sox.
Sale reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time this season, fanning 10 through the first five innings. He allowed two runs and six hits — including a pair of solo homers — and walked none.
"I had a good feel for my slider today," Sale said. "A.J. behind the plate working for me, calling some great pitches and really got me through that game."
Oakland starter Bartolo Colon (9-9) allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings as the A's lost for the fifth time in eight games.
With the score 1-all in the sixth, Pierzynski's 23rd homer put the White Sox up 3-1.
Dewayne Wise added an RBI single, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes committed an error and Colon issued an intentional walk. Gordon Beckham followed with a two-run single for a 6-1 lead.
Sale allowed home runs to Rosales and Gomes, who connected for the third straight game and raised his season total to 14. Norris homered off Addison Reed in the ninth.
Chicago took a 1-0 lead on Adam Dunn's sacrifice fly in the third. The A's hit back-to-back, two-out singles in the fifth, but Sale escaped the jam by fanning Jamile Weeks for his 10th strikeout.
Sale appeared to slip on the infield grass in the fifth while trying to field Pennington's infield single. After warmup tosses, Sale remained in the game.
NOTES: Pennington had two singles against Sale. ... White Sox 1B Paul Konerko (concussion) will undergo a concussion-related test on Monday. If the results are encouraging, the 36-year-old would be allowed to resume baseball activities Tuesday and be activated from the 7-day DL as early as Friday. ... 3B Kevin Youkilis (left arm, right knee) was out of the lineup and is considered day to day. He was hit by a pitch in an arm Saturday. "It's not a fracture or anything, but it's swollen and it doesn't feel too good," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ... The A's switched their Wednesday and Thursday probable starters against Kansas City, scheduling Brandon McCarthy for Wednesday and Dan Straily for Thursday. McCarthy (shoulder) returned from the DL on Friday.