Tumbling downhill at breakneck pace

Different night, slightly different set of circumstances, but very much the same, sorry result.

Carlos Guillen drew a bases-loaded walk from Cliff Politte in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Detroit Tigers a 3-2 victory over the White Sox before a sellout crowd of 40,471 Saturday night at Comerica Park.

The loss extended the Sox's losing streak to seven games. With the Minnesota Twins beating Boston, the Sox are now five games behind the Twins in the Central Division and appear to be fading fast.

The Sox have lost four straight one-run games, two when the winning run scored as a result of an error and two when the Sox walked in the winning run.

"It's kind of weird," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It feels like we have to throw a no-hitter to win the game."

Mark Buehrle was strong in a nine-inning outing, allowing two runs and five hits. He tried to talk his manager into letting him start the 10th, but with Buehrle already at 116 pitches, Guillen went with Politte.

After striking out Brandon Inge to start the 10th, Politte gave up back-to-back singles to Alex Sanchez and Omar Infante, the latter sending Sanchez to third and Infante to second on the throw. An intentional walk to Ivan Rodriguez loaded the bases.

It looked like the Sox might get out of the inning when first baseman Paul Konerko made a brilliant stab of Dmitri Young's line drive for the second out. But Guillen worked the walk for the game-winner.

"You can't walk people," Politte said. "One ball was hit decently, another was a 15-hopper. It happened last night, happened again tonight. Bottom line is, I didn't get the job done."

Damaso Marte had walked Bobby Higginson with the bases loaded for the Tigers' winning run Friday night.

But again the blame rests with the Sox's non-existent offense. Guillen joked that in Sunday's finale of this four-game series, in which Freddy Garcia will try to avoid the sweep, he's going to put coaches Harold Baines and Greg Walker in the lineup.

They couldn't do worse than what Guillen has been watching. Aside from leadoff man Aaron Rowand, the rest of the team is slumping.

"It's hard to do anything when no one is on base," Guillen said.

Even when the Sox get runners on, they can't do much with them.

In the first, Rowand led off with a double, was bunted to third by Timo Perez and was stranded when Carlos Lee popped out and Konerko grounded out.

After Rowand walked and stole second with one out in the third, Perez and Lee left him stranded.

"We had an opportunity to score some runs early," Guillen said.

The Sox did score first for the first time in six days when they pushed across a run in their half of the fifth inning.

Shortstop Jose Valentin, mired in an 0-for-24 skid, led off the inning with a walk. He went to second on Juan Uribe's sacrifice and took third on a wild pitch.

Rowand drove him in with a two-out double. It was the first of two doubles on the night for Rowand, who lifted his average to .312.

The lead didn't last long, however, as the Tigers came back with two of their own in their half of the fifth off Buehrle.

The Sox tied the game in the sixth when Lee doubled and scored on Konerko's single.

After going to third on an error, though, Konerko was out at the plate while trying to score on Valentin's flyout to right.

"Our offense has to wake up," Guillen said. "It's hard to believe how bad we are."

The loss of Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas is proving to be disastrous for a team that doesn't appear capable of manufacturing many runs.

With Carl Everett out of the lineup Saturday with a strained quadriceps muscle, and with Guillen saying Everett will sit Sunday too, Guillen doesn't have too many options when he fills out his lineup card.

Saturday's lineup had Joe Crede, hitting .234, batting fifth. Joe Borchard, hitting .176, batted sixth, and Valentin, batting .228, was seventh.

It would seem like Lee and Konerko, who are 6-for-23 combined with five RBIs in the first three games of the series, need to pick up the load.

"We're scuffling right now," Konerko said. "Tonight we had a few better at-bats, [but we're] just not putting it together."