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Bullpen fails White Sox yet again
Winning two games in a row has become as elusive for the White Sox as consistency from their bullpen.
A chance to win back-to-back contests for the first time in nearly a month sailed over the fence Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field in 7-5 loss to the Florida Marlins.
Josh Willingham and Dan Uggla hit late-inning home runs off relievers Ryan Bukvich and Matt Thornton to hand the Sox their 18th loss in their last 23 games.
The only consolation was that the Sox remained 10 1/2 games out of first place, behind co-leaders Cleveland and Detroit in the National League Central.
The Sox failed to take advantage when Florida ace Dontrelle Willis had to leave after one inning because of tightness in his left forearm, but still led 5-4 lead heading into the seventh.
But then Willingham homered off Bukvich. Thornton, working his second inning, then served up a homer to Uggla that landed inside the left field foul pole to start the ninth.
The Marlins added an insurance run on Aaron Boone's sacrifice fly.
Thornton has allowed nine earned runs in his past six outings.
Manager Ozzie Guillen started an all-right-handed hitting lineup against Willis. One of his decisions already was made when designated hitter Jim Thome couldn't start because of recurring back pain.
Catcher Toby Hall made his eighth start but was struck accidentally in the helmet on a back swing by Uggla in the first inning. Hall left in the top of the fifth because of what were described as flu-like symptoms.
The Sox's lineup included Andy Gonzalez in the leadoff spot for the second time. He started in left field for only the fifth time.
The Marlins took a 3-0 lead in the first off starter John Danks, but the Sox's makeshift lineup produced immediate results off Willis in the bottom half of the inning.
Gonzalez, Juan Uribe and Alex Cintron—none of whom is known for plate discipline—each drew walks. Josh Fields' three-run homer on a Willis breaking pitch capped a four-run rally to give to Sox a 4-3 lead.
Fields' homer extended his hitting streak to five games, an impressive feat after he went hitless in his first 11 at-bats since being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on June 6.
He was hitting as low as .130 before his streak started.
The Sox, however, failed to score after the second inning. They stranded a runner at third in the fifth and seventh, and the Marlins' bullpen retired the final nine batters.
Much of the focus has been on rookie Danks' ability to throw strikes— he had walked 14 in his past four starts—but the left-hander threw too many hittable pitches early in the game.
Alfredo Amezaga and Uggla doubled to start the game and set up Hanley Ramirez's two-run home run.
Danks settled down and struck out the side in the second, but problems resurfaced in the fourth.
He surrendered three consecutive singles but escaped with only one run allowed.
Working into and out of jams finally caught up with Danks, who failed to pitch at least six innings for the fifth consecutive start.
Danks was pulled after allowing a leadoff double to Ramirez in the fifth. David Aardsma, making his first appearance since being recalled Saturday from Triple-A Charlotte, retired the next three batters.
He also cleaned up his bases-loaded mess in the sixth when he struck out Uggla and induced Ramirez to hit into a force play.
Bukvich, however, wasn't as fortunate. Shortly after Miguel Cabrera flied to deep center, Willingham lined a game-tying shot over the center field fence in the seventh.