ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts, Luis Rengifo belted a two-run homer to double the Angels lead in the sixth against Michael Kopech, and the White Sox fell 4-1 at Angel Stadium Wednesday, losing the rubber match of a three-game series.
It was the sixth loss in eight games for the Sox (35-39), who are six games behind the AL Central leading Twins heading into an interleague series at San Francico starting Friday.
“He’s got weapons. He’s for real,” La Russa said of Ohtani (7-4, 2.68 ERA). “We just didn’t put the ball in play enough.”
Kopech gave up two runs in the first on Mike Trout’s RBI double and Kopech was charged with an error covering first base trying to finish a double play, allowing Trout to score. Two more on Renfigo’s blast made it 4-0.
In between, Kopech (2-5, 2.78) strung together four scoreless innings. He struck out six, walked two and allowed five hits.
“Nobody is panicking,” said Kopech, who allowed four runs, three of them earned, over 5 1⁄3 innings. “We know we are a good team and we can turn it around tomorrow if things go well. It’s frustrating yeah, but I think we know what we are capable of.
“We keep getting asked about how we feel about it. Look, nobody wants to lose and the guys that are on the field every night, I promise they want to win more than anybody else that’s thinking about the team. So, yeah, we are not happy that we are not winning.”
The Sox, who scored 11 runs in a victory Tuesday, had chances against Ohtani, the Angels two-way superstar. But Ohtani struck out Gavin Sheets with two runners on in the first and struck out Josh Harrison with the bases full to end the fourth. Ohtani was pulled in the sixth with his pitch count at 108, leaving lefty Jose Quijada to get Leury Garcia on a comebacker with runners on the corner to end the inning.
La Russa had Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger on the bench, but was committed to giving Vaughn two days to rest sore legs. Garcia, batting .193, was 0-for-3 but saw 17 pitches from Ohtani his first two times up, striking out and drawing a walk.
“I’m watching Leury’s at-bats. You see Leury’s at-bats?” La Russ said. “He walked against Ohtani, which nobody was doing. Put the ball in play.
“I like what I’m seeing. I wasn’t going to pinch hit Vaughn … Garcia deserved and had the at-bat. He put the ball in play, fouled off some tough pitches. That’s what I look at. I don’t look, final result, too easy that way.”
La Russa said “there was a chance [Burger] would bat for [the left-handed hitting Gavin] Sheets later on.
Before the game, La Russa talked of the importance of winning the series “going into the day off, going to San Francisco.”
The Sox were held to seven hits, most of them by Jose Abreu who went 4-for-4, raising his average to .284.
Anderson flashing speed
Tim Anderson took it easy when he first came off the IL after a strained groin, but he is blazing around the bases again.
‘‘I’ve been feeling better in the last couple of games, able to move a lot more,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘Overall, the body feels a lot better than it did.’’
Anderson and other Sox players dealing with leg issues have been told to ‘‘slow it down’’ when needed. It goes against Anderson’s instincts, but he gets it.
‘‘My speed has always been a part of my game,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘It’s just a matter of being smart, as well, after coming off the groin until I feel comfortable getting back rolling.’’
Anderson said he wants to play every day but will rest when the training staff recommends it.
‘‘I’m going to play every day I can,’’ he said. ‘‘Whatever they say, goes.’’
This and that
Vaughn, who has been dealing with leg soreness, was rested to give him consecutive days off, including the Sox’ day off Thursday.
• Outfielder Eloy Jimenez hit the first home run of his minor-league rehab, his first extra-base hit in 13 games. Jimenez has played only at DH and is 9-for-46 (.190).