9th-inning rally comes up short

Crime, Law and JusticeManagement ChangeArizona DiamondbacksCrimeJustice SystemShea HillenbrandArmando Rios

Jose Valentin joked that the White Sox should be permitted to cork their bats, given the team's .241 average entering Wednesday night's game.

As if that would be enough for a team that had been averaging 2.6 runs over its last five games.

"This is the first time I've had an offense that didn't swing the bat at all," manager Jerry Manuel said before the Sox's 8-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Sox, who banged out 10 hits, rallied for three runs in the ninth inning before losing.

With his team collapsing around him, Manuel was asked about the perception that he is at fault.

"That's where the blame is supposed to go, no doubt about that," he said. "[But] I obviously feel good about what I do as far as preparation and all that. And I feel good about the game [strategy] in terms of putting things in the right places. But it's just not working out."

The perfect example came Tuesday night in the Sox's 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.

Manuel replaced a tiring Esteban Loaiza with lefty Damaso Marte.

Marte got the inning-ending double-play grounder he needed when Steve Finley hit the ball sharply to D'Angelo Jimenez. But Jimenez's errant toss to Valentin prevented the play from being completed, and the tying run scored.

"Over the last four or five games, we've just found ways to lose," Frank Thomas said. "It's very frustrating as a team. No, it's not the manager's fault."

General manager Ken Williams, who joined the team in Cleveland, has said repeatedly that he supports Manuel and has no plans to replace him. But you have to wonder if that confidence is dwindling.

The Sox fell behind early Wednesday as Jon Garland could not carry the momentum after three consecutive strong starts. The Diamondbacks took a 1-0 lead in the first on Luis Gonzalez's RBI double to center. Joe Borchard couldn't make the play after he turned the wrong way and then stumbled.

Shea Hillenbrand drove Gonzalez home with a double.

After Magglio Ordonez ended an 0-for-17 hitless streak by ripping a 433-foot homer, the Diamondbacks added to their lead on Hillenbrand's two-run homer.

Garland was chased in the fifth after giving up three straight hits. All three runners scored.

The Sox, meanwhile, did little against right-hander Andrew Good, who has been splitting time between Arizona and Triple-A Tucson. Thomas and Valentin drove in runs in the sixth. But with two on and two outs in the inning, Joe Crede popped up to extend his hitless streak to 16.

Ping

Manuel, a lifetime .150 hitter in the big leagues, couldn't say for sure whether he had ever tried a corked bat in batting practice.

"A lot of things are laying around and you try guys' bats," he said. "I know I was playing in South America and a lot of guys brought over different types of wood. Whether it was tainted or not, you didn't know.

"You try everything when you're a .105 hitter."

Manuel joked that he once tried to paint an aluminum bat black.

"They said, `That's a different sound ain't it? That's better than you have been sounding all year.'"

Proceedings delayed

Criminal proceedings against two sons of Ken Williams were postponed to July 2.

Dedrick Quinn Williams, 21, and Kenny Royal Williams, 16, were scheduled to appear in District Court on Wednesday to face two counts each of breaking and entering a motor vehicle and one count each of possession of stolen goods.

The proceedings were delayed because an assistant district attorney was not assigned until last week, and the sons needed to arrange travel from out of town, Attorney Ralph Frasier Jr. said.

Sox files

Outfielder Armando Rios, who left Sunday night to attend to an illness in his family, is expected to rejoin the team Thursday or Friday. . . . With Darren Dreifort going on the disabled list Wednesday with a sprained ligament in his right knee, the Dodgers will start veteran right-hander Andy Ashby against the Sox on Saturday night. . . . In completing their draft Wednesday, the Sox selected left-hander Burke Baldwin of Naperville's Nequa Valley High School in the 24th round.

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