Monroe slams White Sox

SportsTennisChicago White SoxJose ContrerasKenny RogersDeathJavier Vazquez

The symptoms resurfaced quickly Wednesday night and were too acute to cure.

Javier Vazquez's sixth-inning blues suddenly transformed a crafty effort into a tough 5-2 loss at Detroit that puts the White Sox back to where they started this three-game series—4½ games out of first place in the American League Central.

Craig Monroe smacked a flat 2-2 breaking pitch over the left-field fence for a game-winning grand slam that now places more pressure on the Sox to win Thursday's series finale.

"If we win the game, it's going to be a lift for us," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't say it's do-or-die, but it's important for us and them. Whoever wins or loses, it's a two-game [difference], not one."

"I got my best guy (Jose Contreras) throwing there. Hopefully, Kenny Rogers shows up the way he has been showing up lately, and we take advantage. But we have to show up and play the game right."

Offensively, there was little the Sox (58-35) could muster against Jeremy Bonderman (10-4), who pounded left-handed hitters with 95 m.p.h. fastballs and snapped breaking pitches away from right-handed hitters.

The Sox didn't get a runner in scoring position until there were two outs in the ninth, making Vazquez's sixth-inning downfall more glaring.

Entering Wednesday's game, opponents had hit only .228 against Vazquez the first two times through the order.

But that average jumped to .361 in subsequent at-bats.

Even more baffling to Vazquez is that the Tigers (63-31) opened the sixth with four soft singles—including Carlos Guillen's RBI bloop hit.

Vazquez's sharp-breaking pitches that kept Detroit off-balance for five innings became flat and hittable, but Guillen stuck with him because he wasn't hit hard until Monroe's slam.

"No doubt about it," a discouraged Vazquez said while leaning against a locker stall. "This is really frustrating because I feel good, and something always happens. This is why I feel frustrated.

"I feel I'm throwing as well as possible and nothing goes right for me.

"I've had some bad games where they hit me hard. But I felt so good, even in that inning. I threw some good pitches, and balls fall in and they got the big hit."

Vazquez noticed that Monroe took great delight in his grand slam.

"That's part of baseball," Vazquez said. "Now, guys who have hit 10 homers in the big leagues feel they can do that. But that's something we see every day, not only him."

Monroe, who is batting .333 with three home runs and seven RBIs against the Sox this season, high-fived his teammates as he crossed home plate and then bumped into catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

The two sides exchanged words, but Pierzynski said Monroe apologized in his next at-bat.

"It was an exciting part of the game, and he didn't see me," Pierzynski said. "What can you do?

"He hit a grand slam. You like to see excitement and guys run around the bases, especially at home, but you don't like guys bumping into you. At the same time, he didn't mean to do it, and it wasn't that big of a deal."

Said Monroe: "It was no disrespect, but it doesn't get any bigger than that. It was in the moment, and I enjoyed every minute of it."

The loss snapped the Sox's six-game winning streak at Comerica Park dating to last September.

The Sox collected only one hit—Jermaine Dye's two-out single in the ninth—after Juan Uribe hit a home run in the fifth off Bonderman for a 2-0 lead.

mgonzales@tribune.com

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