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TOR@CWS: Romero tosses six innings of two-run ball

CHICAGO -- Ricky Romero wasn't able to enjoy his first quality start since June 5 on Saturday afternoon.

The Blue Jays fell under .500 and extended their losing streak to three games, wasting Romero's six strong innings in a 2-0 loss at U.S. Cellular Field that gave the series victory to the White Sox.

Toronto's offensive woes continued, spoiling Romero's performance. He had allowed at least four runs in each of his last eight starts entering the game, but allowed only a two-run homer in the fifth to Kevin Youkilis.

"[I pitched] under control, I think that was the key," Romero said. "I threw every pitch with a purpose and didn't get ahead of myself. I made one mistake and it cost us the game. In the end, it's all about winning."

Toronto scored two runs or fewer in back-to-back games for the first time since scoring two runs against the Nationals on June 12 and 13. The Blue Jays don't have a hit with a runner in scoring position in this series, and are hitting .214 with runners in scoring position in their last seven games.

Putting runners in position to score was a daunting task for a Blue Jays team that never reached third base. Jose Bautista tried to press his luck by attempting to stretch a double into a triple on a fly ball to left field in the ninth inning that Dayan Viciedo lost in the sun. But the relay nailed Bautista at third base.

"That play's right in front of him," said manager John Farrell. "Down two, with one out with Edwin [Encarnacion] at the plate coming up. He was trying to generate something. It took a bang-bang relay throw. They executed it and it didn't work."

Brett Lawrie, who notched the Blue Jays' only hit through the first five innings off starter Gavin Floyd with a leadoff single to start the game, left the game for precautionary reasons with lower back tightness in the sixth inning.

The White Sox had plenty of opportunities early on to get on the board, putting runners on the corners twice in the first four innings before Romero pitched his way out of the jams.

The Blue Jays starter threw 105 pitches after laboring through a 26-pitch first inning. Romero found his groove after that, forcing White Sox hitters to keep the ball on the ground.

Romero talked to teammates and coaches about the mental side of pitching and attempted to slow the game down, in addition to making a physical change on the mound.

"I think the biggest thing was just staying tall on my back side," Romero said. "I think, at times, I was collapsing early and causing pitches to kind of stay up. Today, I felt like I was more in control of myself."

Shortstop Yunel Escobar assisted Romero with defensive gems throughout the game, saving a run in the first inning on a diving stop in the hole and flipping to second base with men on the corners on a ball hit up the middle by Alex Rios.

"Yunel's been tremendous for us out there at short all year, and everyone else, too," Romero said. "It helps a lot. I'm a guy that trusts my defense a lot, and I'm a ground-ball guy and keep the ball in play."

Rios was originally ruled out on strikes. Both teams were already in their respective dugouts before home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa changed the call to a foul tip, allowing Rios to nearly give the White Sox the lead.

Romero, who struck out Paul Konerko to get to Rios, thought he got himself out of the jam originally. After viewing the replay, he still thought he struck Rios out.

"I've never really seen that," Romero said. "You're sitting in the dugout after a big strikeout and big inning, first and third, and you're being called back out. It was weird. I've never seen that. But it happens. We were fortunate enough to get out of the inning with no runs."

Romero walked three batters for the fourth straight start, though none of those runners scored.

The White Sox extended their winning streak to five games, while the Blue Jays have dropped eight of their last 12.

"We have just been playing better overall," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "It's just maybe a coincidence they have come at home. But it's a good feeling when you know you can win in your home ballpark."

Still, Romero allowed only four hits, marking his lowest total since May 23. He was coming off back-to-back performances in which he allowed at least eight runs, and followed by surrendering two runs or fewer for the first time since May 18.

"It's one game and it's a step in the right direction," Romero said. "I'm as disappointed as anyone about my first half. It's definitely not how I wanted it to be. But at the same time, you learn from moments like this.

"I know 100 percent in my mind that it's going to make me better. I'll be ready for the second half, and hopefully this something I can build on."

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