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The House of Horrors known to the White Sox as McAfee Coliseum never looked as good as it did in their rearview mirror Sunday following their latest debacle.
The Sox and staff ace Mark Buehrle saw a two-run lead quickly transform into a 7-2 loss that extended their woes in Oakland and snapped Buehrle's nine-game winning streak.
"I hope this team (the Athletics) doesn't make the playoffs," Buehrle said after the Sox lost for the 20th time in their last 24 games in Oakland. "Because if we've got to come back here, it seems like no matter what we doanybody hitting, pitching, ground ball back to me and throwing it away in centerthere's something here that puts a little jinx on us because the weirdest things happen."
The sprinkler system was turned on as the Sox were stretching just before pregame batting practice, prompting an irate general manager Ken Williams to leave the visitor's dugout to find the culprit.
Unfortunately for the Sox, the A's and their fans had a good laugh at their expense. Buehrle (10-2) surrendered a career-high 14 hits, including six during a goofy four-run sixth.
"I have no idea what it is about this place," Buehrle said after falling to 0-5 lifetime at Oakland. "[Every time], something happens during the game that makes me lose it."
The Sox aren't scheduled to return to Oakland until next seasonunless they each reach the American League playoffs.
The Sox's lead in the AL Central was trimmed to 8 1/2 games, but the Athletics need help in the AL wild-card hunt.
"I want to come back here," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That means we're in the playoffs. Maybe the playoffs are different. But if that's the opportunity, I'll take my chance."
For the second time in his career, Buehrle was roughed up on the same day he was named to the AL All-Star team. He allowed eight runs in a loss to the Cubs on June 30, 2002.
"It's frustrating," Buehrle said. "
I'm thankful we didn't get swept here."
Buehrle was agitated most by his failure to turn a potential double-play grounder that fueled the four-run sixth.
He threw the ball into center field, an error that scored Oakland's first run, then couldn't field a soft liner by Keith Ginter that scored the tying run.
While rumors persist about the possible acquisition of San Francisco ace Jason Schmidt (the Sox have scouted him recently), the Sox's offense managed only three hits in the final four innings off Barry Zito (5-8) and Kiko Calero.
Schmidt (6-4), meanwhile, was knocked out Sunday in the fourth inning of a 9-6 loss at San Diego.
"Obviously. It's out there," Schmidt told reporters of the trade speculation. "I'm not going to say it's not a distraction."
Schmidt reiterated he would prefer to stay with the Giants.