BALTIMORE — With J.J. Hardy leading the way, the Baltimore Orioles rallied from a four-run deficit to take a seventh-inning lead against the Chicago White Sox.
The comeback, along with Hardy's spirited return, wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles from absorbing another crushing defeat.
A.J. Pierzynski homered and drove in three runs, Alex Rios singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth, and the White Sox prevailed 7-6 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.
Gordon Beckham also connected for the White Sox, who secured their season-high sixth consecutive win on the road and moved within five games of the lead in the AL Central.
Back at the top of the lineup after missing three straight games with an ankle injury, Hardy went 3 for 5 with two doubles and a homer. His three-run drive in the seventh off Jesse Crain (6-3) put Baltimore up 6-5.
But the White Sox regained the lead against Jim Johnson (5-4). Paul Konerko walked, Carlos Quentin singled and Pierzynski hit a sacrifice fly to tie it. Rios then singled under the glove of third baseman Josh Bell to bring home Quentin.
"I gave them the momentum right back," Johnson said. "J.J. had a big game. It was an effort wasted."
Although Hardy said he felt no ankle pain afterward, he was anything but upbeat about the final score.
"It's frustrating," he said. "We battled back, we took the lead. They got a couple of hits there that brought them back the lead. A couple of broken-bat bloopers fell in. That's just bad luck — and frustrating."
Sergio Santos struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 23rd save. It was his 28th successive scoreless appearance on the road (spanning two seasons), the longest such run by a major leaguer since Pedro Feliciano went 39 straight in 2006-07.
Matt Wieters backed Hardy's performance with three hits, but his it wasn't enough to prevent Baltimore from taking its 10th loss in 13 games.
"J.J. had an unbelievable game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"The hitters did a great job, J.J. especially," said Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie, who pitched seven innings. "Too bad we couldn't pull it out."
Hardy's homer made Baltimore the first team in the majors this season to have three players with at least 20. Hardy joined Mark Reynolds (26) and Adam Jones (20). In this game, however, Reynolds went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and Jones was hitless in five at-bats with two strikeouts.
Manager Buck Showalter took consolation in the comeback the Orioles made before giving the lead away.
"I'm proud of the way we battled back, being down 4-0," he said.
Those four runs came in the second inning against Guthrie, who twice yielded homers on 0-2 pitches. Pierzynski led off with his sixth home run, a drive to center. Rios followed with a double, Adam Dunn hit an RBI single and Beckham concluded the flurry with a two-run shot to left.
The Orioles closed to 4-2 in the third. Wieters doubled and scored on a single by Bell, who came to the plate batting .100 without an RBI. Bell took third on a double by Hardy and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Markakis.
Hardy hit an RBI double in the fifth, but with runners on second and third and one out, Josh Danks struck out Markakis and got Jones on a grounder.
Guthrie retired 10 straight before Konerko led off the sixth by hitting a grounder that got past Bell for an error. Konerko was thrown out at third on a single by Quentin, who took second on the throw. Pierzynski followed with an RBI single to make it 5-3.
NOTES: First batters against Crain were 4 for 41 before Hardy connected in the seventh. ... The Orioles placed INF Cesar Izturis (strained groin) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Jason Berken from Triple-A Norfolk. ... RHP Gavin Floyd will start for the White Sox on Tuesday night against LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, who will get his first start since the Orioles picked him on waivers on Aug. 2. In his last start, Floyd allowed a career-high 10 runs in a loss to the Yankees. .... Orioles 1B Chris Davis (shoulder) missed a fourth straight game. ... Jones is 1 for 21 lifetime against Danks