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Levine: Cabrera's Decision To Bunt In 1st Haunts White Sox In 4-1 Loss To Royals

By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (CBS) -- When is it wrong to give yourself up for the team?

That's the question that Melky Cabrera must have been asking himself after the White Sox went down in a 4-1 defeat to left-hander Danny Duffy and the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.

Duffy struck out a career-high 10 hitters in six scoreless innings at U.S. Cellular Field, winning his second game of the season after a shaky first inning.  He was backed by three solo homers as Kansas City snapped its eight-game losing streak.

White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana was once again the victim of no run support. He has received one or zero runs of support in six straight games. Not coincidentally, he's also lost six straight. On Saturday, Quintana went eight innings, allowing three runs on six hits and no walks while striking out 10. He gave up two homers to Cheslor Cuthbert and one to Kendrys Morales.

The tone of the game was set early. The White Sox had a great scoring opportunity in the first inning, as Adam Eaton walked and advanced to second on Jose Abreu's single. Batting third, Cabrera decided to bunt for a sacrifice to move the runners up to second and third.

The move by Cabrera was ill-advised. A No. 3 hitter's job in the first inning with men on is to hit.

Instead of perhaps mounting a big inning, Chicago failed to score when Todd Frazier struck out and Bret Lawrie lined out to left field.

The White Sox never got much else going until the ninth inning, when Avisail Garcia singled home Frazier for the team's lone run.

Frazier defended Cabrera for his sacrifice bunt in the scoreless first inning.

"Melky does that," Frazier said. "That is what he does. It is my job to get them in. He got them over for me, and I didn't do my job. There is nothing on him. In that situation, let's get a couple in and get a little pressure on him. If he wanted to hit, that would have been fine, too. He put down a good bunt and actually almost beat it out. No second-guessing there. He did his job, I didn't do mine."

The team's best hitter this season, Cabrera is batting third for that reason. Bunting in the seventh inning with a tie score would be fine. In this case, it was the wrong approach even if he was thinking of his team.

"Well, he decided to do that on his own," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He is up there, sensing the situation. He thought we could get on the board early by getting them over. It's something you can look at either way."

That critical tactical error by Cabrera set the tone for Duffy to move out of trouble and not be challenged again.

Quintana pitched well enough to win. With just a little offense behind him, it could have been a different story.

"I try not to give up runs as much as I can," Quintana said. "I always hope our hitters will come back (and score). I have no control over that. I just try to do my job."

The White Sox (31-31) dropped back down to .500 with the loss.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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