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Jon Garland said his pitches lacked zip, the White Sox's offense lacked punch and there was no postgame beer for the Sox to drown their sorrows Friday night after a 4-2 loss to the Athletics.
That summed up the Sox's all-around frustration.
The loss dropped the Sox four games behind Detroit in the American League Central, though they stayed two games behind Minnesota in the wild-card race with 15 games left.
"Every day is going to be tough," said right fielder Jermaine Dye, who didn't seem too discouraged. "We just have to find ways to win games, and we didn't [Friday]. We didn't lose any ground [in the wild-card race]."
But the Sox haven't gained a semblance of momentum. They haven't won three consecutive games since Aug. 27, 29 and 30.
And the offense sputtered again, scoring three runs or fewer for fourth time in five games. The Sox fell to 6-39 in those games.
The heart of the orderDye, Jim Thome and Paul Konerkowere a combined 0-for-10, with Konerko taking a called third strike to end the game.
Esteban Loaiza (10-8) was the biggest reason. He won for the sixth time in his last seven decisions. Loaiza and three relievers held the Sox to three hits.
"A couple times we had a chance, and Loaiza stopped the bleeding," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You've got to give him credit."
Guillen was the most vocal, however, after learning that beer is no longer provided in the McAfee Coliseum clubhouses. Oakland general manager Billy Beane banned alcoholic beverages at midseason after Loaiza's arrest on suspicion of drunken driving and a published story highlighting the nightlife of certain A's players.
Guillen told a clubhouse attendant he would pay for the cost of the beer and was angered that Beane would try to control visiting clubhouses. Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon also expressed his disappointment with the policy.
But Sox pitcher Jon Garland (17-5) shouldered the blame for his five-game winning streak being snapped.
"I really didn't have much, to tell you the truth," said Garland, who threw 111 pitches in 52/3 innings. "I did it to myself, regardless of whether they were taking pitches or not. I should be out there and give them strike one and put them in a position where they have to swing, and I didn't do it."
Guillen's worst fears were realized when the Athletics' hitters ran up Garland's pitch count to 79 after four innings. After the first, Garland was in constant trouble.
He escaped with only one run allowed during a 25-pitch third in which Marco Scutaro led off with an infield hit and scored on Mark Kotsay's triple. Scutaro finished with a career-high four hits.
In the fourth, Eric Chavez drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Jay Payton's double. Nick Swisher hit a fly to medium deep right, but Chavez wasted no time in tagging up and scoring ahead of Dye's mechanical throw to home plate.
The A's added another run on Mark Ellis' sacrifice fly to center.
Beleaguered left-handed reliever Neal Cotts bailed Garland out of a sixth-inning jam, but his leadoff walk to Milton Bradley helped Oakland score an insurance run in the seventh.
In that inning, the A's showed a new wrinkle by stealing two bases, including Bradley's steal of second that helped him increase the lead to 4-2.
"They're not the Go-Go Oakland A's, but they will pick their spots and steal the right base," Guillen said.
The Sox had one base runner through five innings against Loaiza, as Rob Mackowiak went deep with one out in the fourth to snap the Sox's streak of 39 consecutive innings without a homer.