Sox lose momentum, game

It was a statement begging for a punch line on a day in which nothing was funny for the White Sox.

The crucial play in the Sox's 5-2 loss to the Twins on Thursday came in the third inning when Roberto Alomar let a throw from center fielder Carl Everett bounce off his glove, allowing three runs to score on a double.

"Robbie said he lost the ball in the Viagra sign in right-center," shortstop Jose Valentin said.

The sign is indeed white, just like the baseball, but Alomar said that was only part of the challenge.

"I kind of lost it in the sign but more in the people," he said on a day in which 20,541 fans showed up on the South Side. "It's real bright and I couldn't pick it up real well."

The "botched up" relay—those were manager Jerry Manuel's words—led to a four-run inning and doomed the Sox on a day their bats were cold.

Make it another day.

The Sox scratched out just six hits and a lone run Wednesday against Minnesota's triumvirate of Johan Santana, LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado.

The Twins needed only one pitcher Thursday to shut down the Sox.

Brad Radke gave up homers to Frank Thomas and Jose Valentin but little else. The Sox spent most of the day flailing at his changeup.

"Radke pitched a good game, but we should have scored more runs," Everett said. "We have to play better baseball than just home-run baseball."

The loss dropped the Sox into a first-place tie with the Twins, who have both momentum and an easier schedule on their side. They play four games at fourth-place Cleveland before hosting the Sox next week.

"They have to be pumped," Valentin said.

The Sox, meanwhile, did almost nothing right in their most important game of the season.

"This was probably the worst game we've played in a while, both offensively and defensively," Manuel said. "When you do that at this point, it's costly."

Esteban Loaiza, in his bid to become the Sox's first 20-game winner since Jack McDowell in 1993, was given a 1-0 lead after Thomas' 40th home run, a 423-foot blast.

But the Twins struck back in the third on back-to-back singles by Jacque Jones and A.J. Pierzynski.

After Loaiza hit Cristian Guzman with a pitch, Shannon Stewart drove a ball to deep right-center field.

Everett fielded the ball and made a strong throw to Alomar. Alomar had a good chance to fire home and cut down Pierzynski, who had held at second until the ball fell in.

But the throw bounced off Alomar's glove and rolled past Valentin, allowing Minnesota to score three as Stewart hustled into third.

Although Alomar was in position to receive the throw, Everett got the error because he had to leave his feet to catch it.

Everett said his throw was fine, noting Valentin was behind Alomar in case the throw sailed.

"If you know the game of baseball," he said, "double relay [throws] are supposed to be high."

So should Alomar have caught it?

"Like I said, we didn't play good baseball," Everett replied.

Alomar said he would have accepted the error. "It could go either way," he said. "I didn't see the ball until it was almost on top of me. When I jumped, I couldn't react to it real quick."

Denny Hocking's sacrifice fly followed, putting the Twins up 4-1.

"We didn't regroup," Valentin said. "It was like a different team out there."