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Sox suffer ex-treme damage
The White Sox's sense of urgency was evident Monday night after eight pitches.
Unfortunately, the damage already had been done before pitching coach Don Cooper visited the mound and rookie knuckleballer Charlie Haeger began to warm up.
That summed up the Sox's night of humiliation. A first-inning triple play couldn't alleviate the sting of an 8-2 defeat to American League Central leader Detroit that virtually shattered their postseason hopes.
"It's hard, but not impossible," manager Ozzie Guillen said after the Sox's fourth consecutive loss. "I expect to win the next 12 games."
The Sox (84-66) fell 4½ games behind Minnesota in the AL wild-card race and six behind Detroit with 12 games remaining. At this pace, the Sox will be reduced to playing the role of spoiler when they visit Minnesota for a season-ending three-game series that could decide the division title between the Tigers and Twins.
"We need to catch an extra miracle to catch [Detroit], division-wise," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "But we're not out of the wild-card [race]."
But all the symptoms of a fading team surfaced in the fiasco. Craig Monroe hit Mark Buehrle's sixth pitch for a two-run home run in the first inning.
The Sox were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against left-hander Kenny Rogers, who pitched six scoreless innings and improved to 6-1 lifetime against the Sox.
And former Sox sluggers continue to haunt them. Magglio Ordonez highlighted a three-hit game with homers off Buehrle in the fourth and sixth.
"That's part of the game," Guillen said of Ordonez and Frank Thomas, who slugged two homers in consecutive weekend victories for Oakland.
Monday's fiasco became complete in the ninth when Brandon Inge hit a three-run homer off Brandon McCarthy, and center fielder Rob Mackowiak dropped a fly ball.
Before the game, the Sox were showered with questions about underachieving and giving their best effort.
There were no excuses, as the Sox fielded their best lineup against Rogers but came up short.
"There's integrity there," Konerko said. "It's not like we've given up. We've been playing a lot of good teams. We knew that was going to be the case with the schedule. Back in July we knew we'd have a tough go of it. It doesn't take much. You have a couple bad innings or whatever to get behind these teams, and that's what has happened."
At this rate, the Sox might be reduced to individual achievements.
Top hitting prospect Josh Fields became the third Sox player to hit a home run in his first major-league at-bat when he slugged a towering shot in the ninth off Jamie Walker and was greeted with a hug by Triple-A Charlotte manager Razor Shines.
"I was glad no one gave me the silent treatment," Fields said with a smile.
Buehrle (12-13) caught a break in the first when he broke the bat of Carlos Guillen, whose soft liner on a hit-and-run play landed in the glove of third baseman Joe Crede. Crede threw to second baseman Tadahito Iguchi to double up Marcus Thames and Iguchi tagged Ordonez to complete the Sox's second triple play of the season--both with Buehrle on the mound.
In the eighth, Jim Thome snapped the Tigers' shutout bid with an opposite-field home run off reliever Fernando Rodney, snapping a streak of 39 at-bats without a homer.
Thome and Jermaine Dye are the Sox's first twosome to hit 40 homers in a season in franchise history.
Before Thome's homer, the 3-4-5 batters in the order were 5-for-39. The offense has hit into 17 double plays in the last 14 games, and they're 4-for-25 with runners in scoring position in their last four games.