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Another bullpen blowup for White Sox
After their toughest loss of the season, Javier Vazquez perfectly summed up the White Sox's forecast for Sunday.
"We have to win," he said after the Sox blew a four-run lead Saturday that resulted in a 10-inning, 7-6 loss to Baltimore. "That's the bottom line."
The Sox (40-49) put themselves in their latest predicament after closer Bobby Jenks blew a two-run lead in the ninth, punctuated by his wild pitch with two outs and a 1-2 count on Jay Payton that enabled Nick Markakis to score the tying run.
Markakis came through again in the 10th with a two-out, game-winning hit off Charlie Haeger, the seventh Sox pitcher.
"Those kind of games you should win," said manager Ozzie Guillen, who pulled out all the stops with his team in danger of an immediate shake-up after this latest debacle. "There's no doubt. We didn't chip it in."
Guillen was fearful it was a momentum-changing defeat. The Sox have lost four of their last seven games, but this was the toughest of the four because they blew a comfortable lead after Vazquez allowed homers to Kevin Millar and Jay Payton in the sixth.
The offense also scored only once after the third inning.
"Those type of games, momentum can kill you and carry over for the next couple of days," Guillen said.
After Sunday's finale, the Sox open a three-game series at American League Central-rival Cleveland, followed by stops at AL East leader Boston and a five-game home series against Central leader Detroit.
"Our division isn't easy," Guillen said. "If we play like this against our division, we're going to be in trouble."
Much damage already has been done, and Jenks was baffled by his setback. Guillen said he had no choice but to use Jenks in the eighth to stop an Orioles rally, but Jenks said he wasn't bothered that he was used before the ninth.
"Not at all," he said. "Honestly, the last two times I faced these guys, I don't think one ball was hit hard. … When you have the outfield playing no-doubles (deep) and everything is falling in, that's just the kind of game it was for me. There's nothing that I wouldn't do any other day as far as pitch selection, and location was fine. I was making good pitches.
"This, right now, has to be the worst blown save I've had, as far as more nubs, bleeders, are-you-kidding-me kind of hits."
Jenks gave up an infield hit to Chris Gomez and a single to Markakis. Aubrey Huff's one-out single scored Gomez. With two outs and the Sox one strike away from winning, Jenks bounced a pitch past catcher A.J. Pierzynski that tied the game.
The loss erased some heroics by rookie Jerry Owens, who laid down a two-out bunt single in the eighth. He stole second base and scored on Alex Cintron's single, eluding catcher Ramon Hernandez's tag by touching home plate with his left hand to give the Sox a two-run lead.
Owens, who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte for the second time on July 3, went 2-for-4. Sox leadoff batters have scored three runs twice this season, with Owens accomplishing the feat both times.
The Sox also wasted Paul Konerko's RBI double during a three-run first and his two-out RBI single in the second.