CLEVELAND—No clutch hitting. Failed sacrifice bunt attempts. Mediocre defense. Bad luck.
Mark Buehrle deserving the win, but Billy Koch getting the loss.
"Probably a microcosm of what has happened this season," manager Jerry Manuel said.
After six-plus strong innings from Buehrle, the Sox were in a prime position to win. They scored twice in the eighth to extend their lead to 4-1.
Then the Indians chipped away against Tom Gordon.
Matt Lawton led off with a sharp one-hopper that glanced off the glove of a diving Frank Thomas at first base.
With one out, Ellis Burks blooped a single to right. Milton Bradley then hit a grounder through the right side that neither Thomas nor D'Angelo Jimenez really tried for.
Shane Spencer then singled up the middle to cut the lead to 4-3.
"I thought the one that got through [the right side] would be right to [Jimenez], but I guess he was playing more up the middle," Buehrle said. "Then the one that snuck up the middle, I was saying: 'Turn [the double play], turn it.'
"I don't know if they were playing him to pull or what. It was just one of those days where the balls weren't hit hard but got the job done."
Said Gordon: "I was trying to keep the ball in the infield. If I did that, I felt that my teammates would be able to make a play for me. Balls just found the holes. That's the way things have gone for us.
"God knows we really wanted to win and we deserved to win."
After replacing Gordon, Damaso Marte induced a fly ball to medium right field by Josh Bard.
Magglio Ordonez made a decent throw to the plate, but the speedy Bradley beat it to tie the game.
Joe Borchard led off the ninth with a double, but Armando Rios twice failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt before taking a borderline third strike. Miguel Olivo popped up and Jimenez grounded out to end the inning.
Asked about the Sox's seemingly collective problem in advancing runners, Manuel replied: "I usually attack it on an individual basis. If a guy's having a problem, I make sure he pays special attention to it.
"It's something we didn't get done. It doesn't necessarily mean we would have gotten the run home, but at least you'd have liked to have done that part of it, the little things."
It was a little hit that won the game for Cleveland in the 10th.
With the bases loaded and two outs, pinch-hitter Jody Gerut got just enough of a Billy Koch pitch to loft it into shallow left-center.
Shortstop Jose Valentin extended his left arm and had the ball in his glove for an instant. Then it popped out.
"I don't know if I should have made that play or not," Valentin said. "For me it wasn't easy and I tried my best."
That winning hit was sweet for Gerut, the rookie outfielder who was born in Elmhurst, played at Willowbrook High School and lives in Lombard.
"I was a White Sox fan as a kid," he said. "I just loved them. But I had a job to do today.
"Half my friends will hate me and the other half will love me. Cubs fans will say, 'Way to go.'"