Liriano stumbles after strong start

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Francisco Liriano appeared headed for an unforgettable night through six hitters on Saturday.

The problem was 10 hitters later his night became one he’d like to soon forget.

Liriano began Saturday’s game by striking out the Oakland Athletics’ first three hitters on 11 pitches, struck out another hitter to begin the second inning, allowed a double and then struck out another hitter. He had faced six hitters and struck out five of them.

An inning later, someone else may as well have taken over Liriano’s body as he looked nothing like the pitcher who threw the first two innings. The Athletics batted around their lineup while Liriano allowed four hits, five runs, two walks and hit one batter in the third inning.

Liriano’s woes continued in the fourth with a sixth run, and his evening was over at 3 1/3 innings.

“I think I was trying to do too much in the third inning,” said Liriano, who received a no-decision in the White Sox’s 9-7 loss. “Missing my spot on almost every pitch. I was getting behind the count.

“I was feeling good the first two innings. The first couple innings I was hitting my spot, throwing a lot of fastballs down away and down in. I don’t know. Everything changed.”

It was his worst start of the four he’s had with the White Sox since joining the team in late July. He had allowed a total of four runs in his previous three starts for them. It was also his worst start since the White Sox knocked him around for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings when he was still with the Minnesota Twins on July 23.

Youkilis bruised: White Sox manager Robin Ventura said third baseman Kevin Youkilis did not have a fracture in his left foreman after being hit by a fastball from Athletics reliever Grant Balfour in the ninth inning.

Youkilis appeared in pain after being hit by the pitch and the team’s physician met him at first base, but he remained in the game.

“Yeah, he’s got a nice welt on there, but it’s not fractured or anything,” Ventura said. “We’ll see how it is in the morning, but he’s got a pretty good sized welt on there.”

Flowers and Pierzynski co-exist in the lineup: Catcher Tyler Flowers normally only gets a chance to play when A.J. Pierzynski is out of the lineup, but Saturday was different as Pierzynski was made the designated hitter and Flowers caught.

Flowers took advantage of his unique opportunity and had a career-high three hits. He was 3-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs. He also was hit by a pitch.

“It’s nice, I guess,” Flowers said of his individual performance. “I’d rather have the win. Like I said at the beginning, defense and my pitchers are the priority. It’s not as good as if we had won the game.”

Thornton struggled: Reliever Matt Thornton blew his fourth save and lost his eighth game of the season when he allowed two runs in the eighth inning.

The White Sox had an 8-7 lead when Thornton entered the game in the eighth inning. Thornton allowed a solo home run to Jonny Gomes, a single to Yoenis Cespedes and a single to Chris Carter before being removed. Brett Myers replaced Thornton and allowed a single to score Cespedes.

“It’s frustrating,” said Thornton, who has a 3.88 ERA. “I felt I threw the ball well again. I made one mistake to Jonny Gomes, and I gave up two runs, and there was nobody on base when I made the mistake to Jonny Gomes. It’s really frustrating. We’ve been playing well. I didn’t do my job tonight.”