Orlando Hernandez dug himself into a first-inning hole Wednesday night, but the White Sox's inability to hit with runners in scoring position made their 4-3 loss to Toronto more frustrating.
Six times the Sox put a runner in scoring position but didn't score. That further magnified the first-inning troubles of Hernandez, who still equaled his season high with seven innings.
"No doubt we lost this game with no fundamentals," designated hitter Carl Everett said. "We get the fundamentals down, we win this game."
The loss dropped the Sox to 3-9 in their past 12 games at U.S. Cellular Field. They haven't won a home series since sweeping Tampa Bay on July 4-6.
It's a small blip for the owners of Major League Baseball's best record (69-37), but the Sox are adamant about not letting up in an attempt to clinch their first American League Central title since 2000.
Wednesday's loss was somewhat reminiscent of games of past years, when they would rely on the long ball but fall short on execution.
Everett hit a first-inning home run that landed on the concourse behind the right-field seats and traveled a about 460 feet. Paul Konerko moved into sole possession of fourth place on the Sox's all-time home run list with 188 when his two-run homer in the fifth extended his team-high total to 25.
But those impressive shots were overshadowed by their other offensive failures, including two innings in which they put a runner at second with no outs but came away empty.
"I think we were a little flat," manager Ozzie Guillen said. " The way the game finished, we should have won 5-4. We got men on third base with less than two out and men on second twice and we moved the runner once. That's not our game."
It was such a goofy night for the Sox that Juan Uribe squatted in an attempt to get out of the way of a pitch from Toronto starter David Bush (2-5), only for the pitch to hit Uribe's bat and carom foul.
Jermaine Dye, who stranded Konerko at third in the first inning, led off the fourth with a double but was left stranded. Tadahito Iguchi ripped a double to start the third but advanced only as far as third.
In the seventh, Iguchi and Everett drew consecutive two-out walks, prompting Toronto manager John Gibbons to pull Pete Walker in favor of Vinnie Chulk.
A wild pitch advanced the runners, but Konerko grounded out to short.
In the eighth, the Sox put a runner at second with one out, but Joe Crede fouled to first and pinch-hitter Geoff Blum struck out against closer Miguel Batista.
Leadoff batter Scott Podsednik went 0-for-5 and is in a 2-for-24 slump.
"He got two days off on the last trip," Guillen said. "He doesn't swing the bat right now, but he makes a lot of things happen for us."
Hernandez (8-4) was victimized by the lack of run support and a lack of control in the first.
Hernandez hit Shea Hillenbrand and walked Corey Koskie with two out to load the bases. That set up Gregg Zaun's bases-clearing double and Eric Hinske's RBI single to give Toronto a 4-0 lead.
After Hinske's single, Hernandez allowed only three hits. After a hit to Orlando Hudson, Hernandez retired 10 consecutive batters and didn't allow a runner past first base.
"I need to be more aggressive," Hernandez said.
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