A cool breeze swirled around PNC Park on Friday night, giving the feel of a September game between two non-contenders.
The White Sox took another step in that direction in a listless 4-2 interleague loss to the Pirates that extended their losing streak to four games and heightened the possibility that changes could be made when the team returns to Chicago on Sunday night.
"I've never been close to a stretch like this," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said after the Sox lost for the 16th time in 19 games while falling nine games below .500 for the first time since Aug. 26, 2002. "It's amazing. You look at the team we run out there. We should be better. I'm right there in the middle of it."
Patience is running shorter for an offense that produced only four hits off left-hander Paul Maholm (3-9), who won for the first time since May 10 over the Cubs, and two relievers.
"We have to do it, and do it in a hurry," Pierzynski said of a turnaround by an offense that is batting a major league-worst .231.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said he hadn't spoken to general manager Ken Williams about changes but understands that time is running short.
"Right now it's a little early, but if we continue to do that, this is a job," Guillen said. "This is a business. If this business doesn't work with the employees you have, obviously you have to make moves. Right now, between Kenny and me, there's nothing … going on."
Guillen hopes he doesn't have to say goodbye to any of his players.
"Every day I think about it when something happens to one of my players — how I'm going to react, how they're going to react, how we're going to take it," Guillen said. "It's just because of the relationship we've had the past four years. It's not going to be easy.
"That's why I keep rooting for these guys and have faith in them because I don't want that to happen. And the only way that doesn't happen is if we start winning."
But for the third consecutive game, the Sox scored in the top of the first before allowing the opponent to tie or take the lead in the bottom.
After Josh Fields' infield hit with one out in the fourth, the Sox didn't get another hit until Pierzynski led off the ninth with a double off the right-field wall. Pierzynski scored on a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Alex Cintron that moved the tying run to second, but Andy Gonzalez popped to short to end the game.
"It's kind of getting old, seeing this thing day in and day out," Guillen said after the Sox fell to 5-10 in games against left-handed starters. "I try to make some changes, but there aren't many options out there. I play with the lineup a little bit, but that's all I can do."
To compound matters, reliever Dewon Day was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game because of a sore back. Day left the game after hitting Jose Castillo with a pitch in the eighth.
Reliever David Aardsma was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take Day's spot on the roster. Aardsma is expected to join the team in time for Saturday night's game but might be unavailable to pitch.
He threw 45 pitches in a three-inning effort Friday night in Charlotte's 4-3 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Aardsma blew a save but got the victory and improved his record to 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA since being demoted from the Sox on June 4.