As his outing Wednesday at Rogers Centre indicated, Ricky Romero’s return to his former perch as one of the game’s better pitchers remains very much a work in progress.
Romero was unsettled and the Chicago White Sox (64-52) were swinging heavy bats and it amounted to a 9-5 Chicago victory over the Blue Jays (55-62), who have now lost two in a row.
Although he pitched six-plus innings, Romero was rung up for six of the Chicago runs off eight hits as he lost his ninth consecutive decision to send his record to 8-10.
A three-run home run by Kelly Johnson in the sixth inning provided Toronto some hope, pulling the Blue Jays even at 4-4 after they trailed Chicago 4-0.
At that point it was critical for Romero to produce a lock-down inning, but instead he started the seventh by issuing a walk to Alejandro De Aza before hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch.
That was enough for Toronto manager John Farrell, who went to the bullpen for Brad Lincoln.
But it wasn’t enough for the American League Central-leading White Sox.
Adam Dunn, the major-league home run leader, destroyed a 2-0 Lincoln fastball, sending it into the right field seats, a three-run shot that regained a 7-4 lead for the White Sox.
Dunn, who smoked two home runs in opening game of the four-game set, now has 34 on the year.
Before the inning was over, Dayan Viciedo had stroked a two-run home run, the third of the night for the White Sox, to put the game out of reach.
Jeff Mathis hit a home run for Toronto in the ninth.
At one point this season, Romero’s record was an all-star worthy 8-1.
After his start Wednesday, his earned run average is an unsavoury 5.47.
In July, the lefty was 0-6 with an ERA of 8.04, including a horrid outing on July 25 against the Oakland Athletics in which he was raked for eight runs off four hits over 1 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of his career.
In his three outings since that game heading into the Chicago contest, Romero seemed to be getting back on track, registering three quality starts even though he failed to earn a victory.
He was more trusting in his stuff, especially his fastball, but he couldn’t carry the momentum against Chicago.
Romero signaled early on it might not be his night when the first pitch he threw in the game grazed De Aza to put him on base.
The White Sox were leading 4-0 through four innings, courtesy of the bat of Dewayne Wise, the former Jay, who drove in all four markers off a single and then a two-run home run blast, his fourth of the season.
The Blue Jays offence started to stir in the fifth when Omar Vizquel was hit by a throw from Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski when he was trying to steal third base.
The ball rolled into foul territory and Vizquel sauntered home to cut the score to 4-1.
Colby Rasmus, who had not started in four games because of a sore groin, was handling the designated hitter duties.
With David Cooper and his hot bat getting the nod at first base, that meant the only place to stick Edwin Encarnacion, merely the team’s top power hitter, was in left field, the first time in more than two months he has started there.
Wouldn’t you know it, the ball found Encarnacion early on unfavorable results.
With the bases loaded, Wise drifted a fly ball down the left field line that Encarnacion gave chase to but failed to haul in despite a courageous diving attempt.
Wise had himself a single and the White Sox had themselves a 2-0 lead.