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Sox fail to extend wild-card lead
After losing two of three games to the team with the worst record in the majors, the White Sox know better than to take a depleted Boston team lightly when they visit Fenway Park for a three-game series starting Monday night.
"A wounded animal is the most dangerous animal," Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said Sunday after the Sox fell to the Royals 7-3. "We're not taking them lightly. We're assuming they're all going to be there, and we'll do what we have to do when we get there."
Though the Sox have lost three of their last four, they remain a half-game ahead of Minnesota in the AL wild-card race and 4½ games behind Detroit in the AL Central. But the Sox are only 3-3 in their last six games against two last-place teamsTampa Bay and Kansas Cityand were 4-5 against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium this season and only 11-8 overall.
Manager Ozzie Guillen preferred to give most of the credit to the Royals' pesky play under manager Buddy Bell after the Sox missed several chances to expand their wild-card lead with 26 games left.
"Those kind of series you always worry about because if you lose, you should have won, and if you win, you should beat them," Guillen said. "You can't do anything about it. [The Royals] outplayed us. They played better for two days, and those are the results. We can't afford to lose that many series. Hopefully this will be the last series we lose."
The Sox see the Red Sox as the team that took two of three from them in July, not the fading AL East contender that recently has lost 10 front-line players and pitchers to injuries and illness.
"They went through a lot of thingsfive games in four days, a different schedule, and they went to the West Coast," Guillen said. "I feel for (manager) Terry Francona. In the meanwhile, better them than me. They have to deal with it. It's part of the game, and I know Terry will handle it very well because he's a strong man."
Boston, trying to make a last-ditch run at the wild card, was bolstered by the activation of catcher Jason Varitek, right fielder Trot Nixon and shortstop Alex Gonzalez from the disabled list.
"We're going at Boston like we normally would," said Cooper, who assumes the Sox will see Manny Ramirez, whose right knee has been bothering him, and David Ortiz, who has been out with an irregular heartbeat. According to the Boston Globe, a Red Sox source said Ortiz will play Tuesday.
Like the Sox, Boston had high expectations. The Red Sox were in first place in the AL East by four games July 4, nearly three weeks after dealing reliever David Riske to the White Sox.
"You feel for them and wish the best for them," Riske said. "I was looking at the roster, and when you go to spring training, you usually get to know all the names, even the guys at Double A and invited guys. There were a lot of names of guys I had no idea who they were, and they're in the big leagues."
The Sox's reliance on the home run continued Sunday. Paul Konerko hit a solo shot and Jim Thome hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
The Royals were more resourceful off Freddy Garcia (13-9). Shane Costa's double and Ryan Shealy's single in the sixth produced what turned out to be the winning run.
They added three more runs with two out in the eighth off Garcia and reliever Brandon McCarthy.