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Sox out of juice in Tropicana Field
Tropicana Field is where White Sox momentum goes to die.
Last season, after climbing back to the .500 mark and coming off a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, the Sox came here and promptly lost the first two games of a three-game series.
Friday, fresh off a rousing three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals and looking for their best 10-game start since 1991, the Devil Rays and starting pitcher Paul Abbott put the Sox to sleep and cruised to a 3-0 victory.
Abbott and three relievers combined to limit the Sox to four hits, matching their season low. Javier Vazquez and Mariano Rivera held the Sox to four hits April 8 in New York.
Vazquez, Rivera and the Yankees are one thing. Abbott and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are another.
"This isn't the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that people think," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You can come here easy and get swept without knowing about it."
Even on its best days, the Devil Rays' drab, gray home park resembles nothing remotely tropical. The Sox are just 14-13 lifetime here against some pretty bad Devil Rays teams.
"It seems like it's tough for us to win here," third baseman Joe Crede said. "It's not Yankee Stadium, but we're all professionals here and have to find a way to motivate ourselves. We can't use the stadium as an excuse."
The way Abbott pitched Friday, it wouldn't have mattered much where the game was played. Aside from a leadoff single to Willie Harris and a two-out walk to Frank Thomas, the Sox didn't have two baserunners in any of the last eight innings.
Harris was the only runner to reach second base and that was in the first.
"I had pretty decent command with everything," Abbott said. "I threw a lot of cutters tonight; that's what saved me."
Dan Wright suffered his second straight loss and failed to last five innings in his second start of the season. Wright has failed to go five innings in 18 of his 62 career starts.
Wright had the same problem Friday he had in his first start in New York on Easter Sunday and has had throughout his careerfalling behind in the count.
He fell behind 1-0 to Carl Crawford to lead off the Tampa Bay first and Crawford drilled a fastball for a home run. After walking Tino Martinez with one out in the second, he fell behind Julio Lugo 3-1 and watched Lugo drill a fastball for a two-run homer.
That would be all the Devil Rays would need.
"My fastball command wasn't where I wanted," Wright said. "In the course of a game you can always look back to a pitch here or a pitch there. It's just a matter of making quality pitches all the way through."
Despite Wright not lasting five innings in either of his first two starts, Guillen said the right-hander will remain his fifth starter and get the ball in his next turn, which is likely to be Friday at U.S. Cellular Field against the Devil Rays again.
"He didn't throw great, but I was happy with the way he was throwing," Guillen said.
"He kept us in the game and he's going to be back out there in five or six days."