CHICAGO -- If it's April and May on the South Side of Chicago, then two things seem almost certain.
The weather could fluctuate from 70 degrees one day to 45 degrees the next, and Gavin Floyd is going to struggle more often than not when he takes the mound.
That latter theory played out Thursday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, when the right-hander battled through 117 pitches over six innings and came up on the losing end of a 5-3 final to the Orioles. That loss dropped Floyd to 1-2 for the 2012 season and 12-11 lifetime in April.
Floyd has a 5.54 career ERA in April and a 9-12 record and 5.11 ERA in May. After May, Floyd improves to 38-34 with a 3.98 ERA. But the talented right-hander, who has walked eight and given up four homers over 17 2/3 innings this season but also struck out 16, played down talk of any sort of April doldrums.
"Today was what it was," said Floyd, who struck out seven and allowed five runs on six hits over six innings. "I don't even think about that stuff."
Floyd almost was taken off the hook by a seemingly improbable ninth-inning rally against Baltimore closer Jim Johnson (sixth save). Eduardo Escobar grounded out to second to start the frame and Alejandro De Aza took a called third strike for the second out.
Pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski coaxed a walk from Johnson, bringing the tying run to the plate in Adam Dunn, and Dunn laced a 3-2 pitch up the middle for a single. When Paul Konerko was hit by a Johnson pitch on the left hand, the winning run was on base.
That winning run stayed at first, as Alex Rios took a called third strike to end a third win in four games against the White Sox (6-6) for the Orioles (8-5).
"I wasn't trying to make it as dramatic as it was, but it's good to get three out of four here," Johnson said. "We want to keep it going."
"It's like you're getting close and it's just not happening," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his team's second ninth-inning rally to come up short against the Orioles. "I look at more of they're still grinding it out even though they're down. Eventually, those will push through and it will be different. It's frustrating when you get that close."
Adam Jones basically did in Floyd on this chilly, 50-degree afternoon. The Orioles held a 3-2 lead in the fifth, with Endy Chavez on second base after an errant Floyd pickoff attempt and two outs, when Jones launched his fifth home run to left on a 3-2 pitch. Jones also doubled home a run during a two-run first.
With first base open and the on-deck hitter being Nick Johnson, who is 0-for-20 this season, Floyd realized he made a mistake to the Orioles' top offensive force.
"Obviously, you want to keep the team in the game a little bit better," Floyd said. "I threw two there to Jones, I mean, base open, hung probably one of the few breaking balls I did all day, and he hit it. He's a good hitter. He's hot right now. Probably should have kept that in mind better."
Two runs in the third off Baltimore starter Jason Hammel (2-0) tied the game at 2, as Dunn doubled home a run and Rios singled home one. Hammel matched a career high with 10 strikeouts, but he also pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the first, when Alexei Ramirez grounded out, and in the third, when Dayan Viciedo struck out looking and Tyler Flowers struck out swinging.
Those strikeouts were part of an overall 16-strikeout performance by the offense, tying Baltimore for the most strikeouts in the American League at 111.
"Not everybody right now has the best feel they're going to have all year," said Konerko, who had two hits on Thursday. "No one's crazy besides A.J.
"Everybody's getting some hits here or there, but not locked. I think we'll get better with [the strikeouts] as it goes on, especially the younger guys. Some of these guys have never faced these guys. It's just tough. The more they do, the better they'll be against them."
One unexpected moment in this loss came three pitches into the seventh, when a young boy, reportedly four or five years old, ran on to the field and got as far as left-center before Viciedo grabbed him. He was returned to U.S. Cellular security, who returned him to his family.
That family missed the South Siders' first homestand under Ventura close out at 3-4, after taking the opening series from powerful Detroit.
"Other than the last four or five innings in Texas on the third night, we've either won or been in every game up until the end," Konerko said. "That's a good sign and I think that means guys are up there taking a lot of pride in their at-bats and the way they're going about it, and relievers are holding those games close when we are behind a few runs.
"You'd always like a 10-2 record after 12 games or something, but the way we're going about it, it's really good to see. We're doing it right and just keep trucking along."