One casual misstep on the baseball dance floor can bump an entire team out of sync.
So it seemed Sunday when the White Sox botched a game-opening grounder that led to a pair of unearned runs. By the end of the day the Sox had dropped a 6-1 decision to left-hander Jarrod Washburn and the Anaheim Angels in front of 19,869 fans at Comiskey Park.
The Angels jumped on Mark Buehrle (7-3) for three runs in the first inning.
David Eckstein reached on an error by third baseman Tony Graffanino to open the game. Darin Erstad followed with a base hit before Troy Glaus delivered a two-run double. Bengie Molina came through with a two-out single for a 3-0 lead.
"I thought from the first play we didn't seem to be into the game," said Sox manager Jerry Manuel, whose club lost a seriestwo of threeat home for the first time this season. "I always preach that you try to make the first play of the game. After that, they got three runs."
The Sox also lost an opportunity to take over first place in the AL Central from the Minnesota Twins, who dropped another decision to the New York Yankees. The Sox remain a half-game off the pace.
"We're not too concerned about first and second place right now. It's a little bit early for that," said Sox first baseman Paul Konerko. "But we wanted to get this win just to get this series. [Anaheim] swept us last week and we wanted to win this series. We were just kind of flat, for whatever reason."
Washburn (4-2) limited the Sox to three hits over seven innings, striking out five and allowing just a solo home run to shortstop Royce Clayton in the sixth.
"He pitched well," said Manuel. "He really kept us off balance. He got the first pitch over for a strike. Then he challenged us a little bit later in the at-bat."
Washburn earned his fourth straight decision, walking one. Al Levine and Troy Percival finished.
"Washburn pitched a terrific ball game," said Angels manager Mike Sciosia. "He had to work for it, especially with their lineup. He did a great job shutting them down."
Anaheim added two more runs in the fifth inning when Julio Ramirez and Jose Nieves led off with singles. Eckstein sacrificed the runners to second and third before Erstad doubled them in for a 5-0 advantage.
Erstad was 8-for-15 in the series to raise his average to .313.
"It's good to see his swing where it is," Scioscia said. "We just need him to play his game, not have a super-human year. He's an incredible keystone to this club."
Clayton blasted his 406-foot home run to right-center to make it 5-1. The homer was Clayton's sixth of the season.
"If they want to work ahead [in the count] using the fastball, that's to my advantage," said Clayton, who hopped on Washburn's first pitch.
Eckstein executed a squeeze-bunt single in the ninth to drive in the Angels' sixth run.