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White Sox waste solid debuts in loss to Rays

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The White Sox's Josh Phegley follows through on a sacrifice fly against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won, 8-3. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – In a disappointing loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the White Sox took some solace that they had a couple of players make successful major league debuts Friday night.

Catcher Josh Phegley drove in two runs, and Simon Castro pitched three shutout innings in their first big-league games, but all of it came after the Rays had jumped on Sox starter Dylan Axelrod in a five-run second inning of a 8-3 win over Tampa Bay.

It was the seventh loss in nine games for the Sox.

“It was kind of a strange feeling,” said Phegley, who drove in the Sox’s first run with a fifth-inning single off Jeremy Hellickson.

“It’s the same game; you try to tell yourself that, but it was just a different atmosphere, and it was exciting and stressful and nerve-racking all at the same time. I wish it would have went a little better for us, but it was an experience.”

Hellickson (8-3) won his fourth consecutive start, and Jose Molina and Kelly Johnson homered during the Rays’ big inning against Axelrod, who gave up nine hits in 12/3 innings.

Desmond Jennings and Luke Scott each had three of Tampa Bay’s 14 hits.

“I threw some balls up and they’re hot right now, so I’ll just try to turn the page and think about my next start,” said Axelrod (3-5). “I didn’t feel like I was throwing horrible pitches, but it was obviously not good enough.”

Hellickson gave up one run, six hits and struck out nine in seven innings, helping the Rays win for the sixth time in seven games.

Axelrod, who has given up 10 homers in 221/3 innings over his past five starts, allowed five runs. The Sox were down 7-0 by the time Phegley got his first hit and RBI.

“It felt like kind of a weight lifted,” Phegley said. “[Hellickson] was really getting me with that changeup, kind of a good pitch for him. But just to get the bat on the ball and see it go though there. ... I guess I lucked out.”

Phegley and center fielder Blake Tekotte, recalled from Triple-A Charlotte before the game, were both in the starting lineup.

Castro allowed singles to Scott and Yunel Escobar, but struck out four of the next 10 hitters he faced.

“I just feel blessed that I finally got the chance, and I’m enjoying it,” said Castro, who has spent 7 seasons in the minor leagues.

“It was just one of those games. They just jumped on Ax,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There’s a silver lining to it; you get those [new] guys in there.”

Gordon Beckham had an RBI single and Phegley added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Tampa Bay’s James Loney singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games. He drove in a run by drawing a bases-loaded walk in the fifth.

Axelrod reached for Jennings’ low first-inning liner, which knocked his glove to the ground. The pitcher picked up the ball and threw out the speedy Rays’ leadoff man at first.

NOTES: Sox RHP Jake Peavy, on the DL since June 6 due to a broken rib, threw off a bullpen mound. “Hopefully in the next week or so he’ll be able to get a side (session) and be ready to go,” Ventura said. Peavy will likely go out on a rehab assignment before rejoining the team. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb had a bullpen session for the first time since being hit in the right ear by a line drive on June 15. There is no timetable for his return. ... The Sox designated C Hector Gimenez for assignment. ... SS Alexi Ramirez, who played every inning for the Sox this season entering the game, was one of several Sox players pulled after the top of the seventh.

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