Down with a whimper

BaseballSportsJohn RockerTodd RitchieJon GarlandCarlos LeeJose Valentin

After losing another game in which he received no support from the White Sox offense, Todd Ritchie was trying to look on the bright side.

One night after scoring 15 runs on 15 hits, the Sox lost 5-2 to Texas on Wednesday as starter Ismael Valdes and relievers John Rocker and Hideki Irabu limited them to two hits.

The Sox went down with a whimper as Rangers pitchers retired the final 17 batters from the fourth inning through the ninth. Last Thursday in Texas, Ritchie lost a 4-1 decision when Texas pitchers retired the final 19 Sox hitters.

"It's one of those things," Ritchie said. "There are no other people I'd rather have out there behind me. Heck, I already have three wins. Last year I was probably 0-7 by now."

Ritchie (3-4) allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings. The Sox may lead the league in runs scored, but they haven't been equal opportunity providers. They're averaging about 4½ runs per game with Ritchie on the mound, as opposed to more than nine runs per game when Jon Garland starts.

With Dan Wright, Garland and Gary Glover going in the next three games, the Sox offense can't afford to let down.

"We have a No. 1 and a No. 2 in [Mark] Buehrle and Ritchie," Jose Valentin said. "After that, there are some question marks. Late in the year those guys are going to have to step up, and as a team, we have to pick them up. But as you can see, every time Ritchie pitches we don't score many runs."

Frank Thomas' leadoff home run off Valdes (3-4) in the second got the Sox off to a good start, but Ritchie gave up two runs in the fourth on Rusty Greer's RBI double and Kevin Mench's run-scoring infield hit that traveled less than 10 feet. Catcher Mark Johnson couldn't wait to see if the ball would roll foul, as Greer scored from third.

Valentin's RBI groundout with the bases loaded in the fourth tied it again, but Carlos Lee grounded out on the first pitch to end the inning.

"Not a very good at-bat," manager Jerry Manuel said.

The game turned when Magglio Ordonez misplayed Gabe Kapler's sinking liner with two outs in the seventh, turning it into a double. Mench followed with a run-scoring single, giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead. Rocky Biddle gave up a homer to Michael Young in the seventh and an RBI single to Hector Ortiz in the eighth.

Though general manager Ken Williams' recently said a high-priced starter can be acquired only if fans come out to the park, a crowd of only 13,980 showed up on a pleasant night with a game-time temperature of 72 degrees.

"The money is not coming out of my pocket," Valentin said. "I don't know if the money is there, but if [Williams] wants to win, we probably have to get someone. Until then, we have to do our jobs and hopefully get help if we need it."

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