All of a sudden, the Angels hit a slump on the road

This is the natural ebb and flow of the game, the Angels say, so there's no reason to panic.

The hottest offensive team in baseball since the All-Star break has hit a cold snap, and the Angels lost their second straight game to the Chicago White Sox, who used two home runs by Jim Thome to power their way to a 6-2 victory at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night.

The Angels managed six hits, five of them singles, and were hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. They had five hits and were one for four with runners in scoring position in Tuesday night's 5-4 loss.

The Angels entered Wednesday leading the major leagues in batting (.289), runs (594), hits (1,045) and average with runners in scoring position (.307).

They arrived in Chicago on the heels of a three-game demolition of the Minnesota Twins, in which they amassed 35 runs and 52 hits.

But in two games in one of baseball's best-hitting parks, the Angels have scored six runs and have 11 hits -- 10 singles and a double -- and are one for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Right-hander Gavin Floyd shut down the Angels on Wednesday, giving up two runs -- one earned -- and six hits in eight innings, striking out six and inducing three double-play grounders.

"Good pitching is going to beat good hitting, and he kept the ball out of the hitting zone all night," leadoff batter Chone Figgins said. "You're not always going to be hot."

Cynical Angels fans will point to this sudden slump coinciding with Tuesday's return of Vladimir Guerrero, who was inserted into the cleanup spot after sitting out nearly a month because of leg injuries.

Some thought Guerrero would drag down the offense with his free-swinging approach and penchant for hitting into double plays, and Guerrero did bounce into a double play to end the sixth inning Wednesday.

But Guerrero has also supplied 18% of the Angels' offense the last two nights -- two singles -- and smashed a first-inning liner that right fielder Jermaine Dye misplayed for a three-base error, allowing the Angels to score a run Wednesday.

"People are always going to think stuff like that; it's part of sports," Figgins said. "People get hurt, things go well, and they come back. To me, if you're supposed to be in the lineup and you're ready to play, you should be back in there."

Sean O'Sullivan, fresh off his July 28 no-hitter for triple-A Salt Lake, was also back with the Angels, and he kept his team in the game for five innings.

Thome's solo home run in the fourth inning tied the score, 1-1, and Chicago took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when A.J. Pierzynski's led off with a double and scored on Jayson Nix's two-out bloop single.

But Gordon Beckham led off the sixth inning with a double and took third on Dye's single.

With the left-handed Thome coming up, Manager Mike Scioscia summoned left-hander Darren Oliver, who coughed up a three-run home run to left-center field, giving Thome his 44th multi-homer game and the White Sox a 5-1 lead.

Chicago scored another run in the eighth inning on Paul Konerko's home run against closer Brian Fuentes, who was given an inning of work because he hadn't pitched since July 28, when, for the second night in a row, he failed to retire any of the four Cleveland batters he faced.

"Our offense has been strong in a lot of areas for a while, but it's not always going to be there," Scioscia said. "The more you pressure clubs, the more you're going to break through, but tonight we couldn't get that hit to change the complexion of the game."


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