For the last couple of seasons, the White Sox have lived by the home run ball.
Now they are starting to die by it.
The Sox allowed four more home runs Wednesday. The biggest was Ben Broussard's pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning off Mike Jackson that cemented a 9-5 victory for the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland, two games behind the second-place Sox in the American League Central Division, has won two of the first three games of this four-game series with the finale Thursday afternoon.
The Sox will try to salvage a split by accomplishing something they haven't all seasona victory out of a No. 5 starter. Jon Rauch will face that challenge for the second time.
Wednesday's loss, coupled with Minnesota's victory, put the Sox two games behind the Twins.
Mark Buehrle suffered his first loss since April 20, but it was his second-straight poor outing and third in his last four starts.
Buehrle gave up eight runs on 10 hits in seven innings Wednesday and in his last two startsincluding Friday in Montrealhe has allowed 15 runs on 20 hits in 13 innings.
Even though he's 7-2, Buehrle's ERA is up to 4.49 and any chance he might have had of making the All-Star team is likely gone.
"I don't deserve to go," Buehrle said. "In the past month it feels like I haven't done much for this club."
Catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. said Buehrle's cut fastball wasn't working and as the game went on his sinker wasn't working either.
That left just the fastball.
"I felt like I had good stuff, just made a couple of mistakes," Buehrle said. "Some of the hits they got, I made some quality pitches."
The Indians are second in the American League in hitting with a .281 average, just one point behind the league-leading Sox.
"You have to tip your cap to a team that can score 17 runs against your two best pitchers," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Tuesday, the Indians scored six runs against Esteban Loaziain an 11-9 loss.
Buehrle gave up three solo home runsto Ron Belliard, Casey Blake and Lou Merloni. He has given up eight home runs in his three starts in June and 16 for the season.
Still, the Sox trailed just 5-4 going into the eighth inning. They were bolstered by solo home runs from Aaron Rowand and Paul Konerko.
But Buehrle gave up singles to the first three men he faced in the eighth to load the bases and Guillen went to get Jackson, hoping for a double-play ball.
"He's a sinker pitcher," Guillen said of Jackson.
Broussard, pinch-hitting for Merloni, hit Jackson's first pitch for the grand slam.
"I guess that ball didn't sink," Guillen said.
Konerko hit his second home run of the night in the eighth to close the scoring.
The Sox have given up 88 home runs, surpassing Tampa Bay for the American League lead. They also have hit 100, second only to the Yankees.
"We're giving up a lot of home runs lately," Guillen said. "But we've run through some good-hitting teams. Cleveland is one of the top hitting teams and it shows."
There has been a lot of focus on the fifth starter problems, but aside from Shingo Takatsu, nearly everyone on the Sox staff is struggling.
Jackson has given up hits to the first batter he has faced 9 of 23 times and has allowed eight out of 15 inherited runners to score. He has a 12.79 ERA over his last seven games.
"We have to stop the bleeding. We can't wait for the All-Star Game," Alomar said. "We don't have power pitchers, so we have to have command."
Keeping the ball in the ballpark would help, too.
JOIN US FOR FROM THE CUBICLEChicagoSports.com's Adam Caldarelli will be giving play-by-play commentary of the Cubs and Sox on Friday at 3:05 p.m.
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