A bitter aftertaste

OAKLAND-- Frank Thomas stared into his locker with a glazed look in his eyes.

Jim Parque beat himself up after his first outing in a year, while rookie Jon Rauch said he was "focusing on the negatives" after his best outing.

After a 6-4 loss to Oakland on Friday night at the Coliseum, the White Sox reacted like it was the end of the world.

The A's hit back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches by Parque in the sixth, Thomas struck out in a bases-loaded situation in the eighth, and Rauch gave up two unearned runs in five innings in his third start.

"Jon Rauch kept them in the game and I just gave it up," Parque said.

"I have a bitter taste in my mouth right now. You see a team that's been winning constantly and all you want to do is be a part of it and help it out any way you can. The first time you get a shot, you drop the ball like I did today."

Looking to keep his spot in the rotation, Rauch escaped several jams, walking four and making a key throwing error on an attempted pickoff in the fifth.

Manager Jerry Manuel was noncommittal afterward on whether he'd give Rauch's spot in the rotation to Parque. Does Rauch think he'll get another shot?

"I hope so," Rauch said. "It's not my decision. Hopefully you earn the right to stay here.

"Every outing I've had has positives to it, but I'm going to focus on the negatives. My control is not there, and I'm not making the pitches when I need to."

Staked to an early 2-0 lead, Rauch experienced control problems again but shut out the A's into the fifth. After walking Jeremy Giambi with two outs, Rauch made a pickoff throw to first without looking to see if Paul Konerko was covering the bag.

He wasn't. Rauch's throw sailed into right field, allowing Giambi to advance to second. Frank Menechino's RBI single made it 2-1, and Jose Valentin followed by committing two errors on a Scott Hatteberg grounder, first booting it and then throwing it over Konerko's head, allowing the A's to tie the game at 2-2.

Parque, making his first appearance since undergoing labrum surgery last May, entered in the sixth and gave up extra-base hits to three of the first four batters he faced. An opposite-field double by Eric Chavez, a two-run homer by Terrence Long and a solo homer by Ramon Hernandez on the next pitch made it 5-2.

"I left some balls up that they crushed," Parque said. "It does not feel good right now. I feel like I lost this game for this team. They deserved to win, and I messed it up."

Cory Lidle shut down the Sox for his first win in four decisions, allowing two runs and striking out eight. The Sox left the bases loaded in the eighth when Jim Mecir struck out Thomas and retired Magglio Ordonez on a force.

"It's still the first month," Thomas said. "I'm not the only one struggling. A lot of great hitters are struggling."

Hernandez's second homer made it 6-2 in the eighth before Mark Johnson's two-run, two-out homer in the ninth cut the deficit to two. After Royce Clayton walked, closer Billy Koch retired Kenny Lofton to end it.

Since the start of the 2001 season, the Sox are 3-16 on the West Coast against Oakland, Seattle and Anaheim, including a 1-3 this year.