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Garland's excuse won't fly
Pretty soon, Harold Baines is going to say something to get himself suspended. It would beat having to watch more of what he saw Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Shaky defense, the inability of pitching to overcome it and another futile offensive effort against a left-handed starter all added up to an 8-4 White Sox loss to the Detroit Tigers.
But in the eyes of starting pitcher Jon Garland, the game was lost when a potential double-play wasn't made.
First baseman Paul Konerko's poor throw to second in the third inning pulled shortstop Juan Uribe off the base and the Tigers went on to score five runsthree coming on Bobby Higginson's second home run of the night.
At the end of the inning, the Tigers led 7-0.
"Truthfully, in my eyes, the difference in this game is four unearned runs," Garland said. "Take that away and it's 4-4. What do you do?"
Garland was tagged for three home runs in his 22/3 innings of work.
Baines saw it a bit differently.
"[Garland] has to get us out of that inning," the Sox's bench coach said.
Manager Ozzie Guillen was serving the first game of his second consecutive two-game suspension, this time for comments made Wednesday about his first suspension.
Baines' record as Guillen's substitute fell to 1-3 after Thursday's debacle. The Tigers took the three-game series 2-1 and have won six of the first 10 meetings of the season. The Sox travel to Detroit next week for three games.
"Our objective is to win series," Baines said. "When you can't beat the teams below you, it's hard to stay in the race."
The Sox wasted a chance to pull even with idle second-place Cleveland in the American League Central Division and pick up a game on division-leading Minnesota, which lost to the Yankees.
The next week may be make-or-break for the Sox. They host the Boston Red Sox this weekend, then go to Detroit and Cleveland for a seven-game trip.
"We have to win every series, regardless if it's with Tampa Bay or Boston," Baines said.
Back-to-back home runs by Craig Monroe and Bobby Higginson in the second inning gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Normally, the fourth inning is the inning that kills Garland (8-9).
He has yielded 18 earned runs in 24 fourth-innings this season. Thursday, however, it was the third inning.
Omar Infante and Carlos Guillen singled to put runners on first and second with no outs. Ivan Rodriguez then hit the potential double-play ball to Konerko.
After that, Dmitri Young hit into a force play to score Infante to make it 3-0. Carlos Pena doubled in Guillen, with Young thrown out at the plate on a strong relay from Uribe.
Garland then walked Monroe and Higginson homered to complete the five-run inning. Higginson also had two homers in the series opener and has worn out the Sox in the series, going 7-for-10.
In the first two games as substitute manager, Baines let pitching coach Don Cooper come out to make the pitching changes. But Baines came out to take the ball from Garland.
As he was leaving the field, Garland appeared to tip his hat to someone in the crowd of 24,554, which jeered him as he left.
"I'm not here for [the fans]," Garland said. "I'm here for myself and my teammates."
The Sox offense could do nothing with Tigers starter Wilfredo Ledezma, who held the Sox to three hits through the first five innings.
In the sixth, the Sox touched him for three runs, including a two-run home run by Uribe, but that only made it 8-3 Tigers.
If there was a positive in Thursday's game, it was the performance of Felix Diaz.
The right-hander, who isn't trusted to handle the fifth starter's role, came on in relief and gave up two singles and a hit batsman among the first four hitters he faced.
But Diaz settled down to retire 11 of the last 12 hitters he faced. He yielded one run on two hits while striking out three in four innings.
Nevertheless, Diaz will not get the start Saturday against the Boston Red Sox.
After the game, the Sox recalled Josh Stewart from Triple-A Charlotte and sent Diaz down.