White Sox left searching for answers, fall five back

White Sox left searching for answers, fall five back
August 19, 2010, 3:22 am
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Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
Updated 12:11 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS You cant say these havent been exciting games. But unfortunately for the White Sox, its excitement that is filed more in the heartbreaker category than the thriller one.

Filed again under the former was Wednesdays tilt, in which the Minnesota Twins rallied from a 5-3 deficit to defeat Chicago, 7-6, pulling five games ahead in an AL Central race that is all-too-rapidly reaching the finish line.

Theres no concern, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The Twins play good against everybody. Thats why theyre in first place.

The White Sox pushed Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano from the game after he burned through 106 pitches in just five innings, yet in a series where neither team has seemed to enjoy prosperity, Pale Hose starter Gavin Floyd gave the lead right back, surrendering seven earned runs over 5 13 innings to take his second straight loss.

When a teams hot, theyre hot, Floyd said. I had good stuff, but apparently not good enough.

The Twins again jumped on Chicago early and threatened to bury the White Sox with instant offense, Joe Mauer doubling home Denard Span, then Michael Cuddyer singling home Mauer for a 2-0 first inning lead.

It is what it is, said second baseman Gordon Beckham. Theyre very good. We bring the infield in, and I dont think Mauers double is a hit if were back. That was just sort of the story of the night.

Similar to Tuesdays game, Chicago fought back, with Andruw Jones driving a monster, 436-foot shot to center that plated three and gave the White Sox a 3-2 lead.

I didnt think Liriano was going to mess around after walking A.J., Jones said of looking for a sweet fastball on his three-run blast. But it was too early in the game to think we had the advantage. We know theyre not going to give up.

Early on we had Liriano on the ropes, could have scored more runs, and couldnt get it done, was how Guillen summarized it.

The back-and-forth continued with Jason Kubel singling home Span to tie the game at three in the bottom of the third, and the White Sox pushing back for two in the fifth on Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski RBIs.

Mauer launched a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning-his first at Target Field-that barely cleared the wall in left, drawing the Twins to 5-4. One frame later, Delmon Young, Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy batted in runs that pushed Minnesotas tally to seven and its lead to two.

They just find holes, find where our players arent, all the time, Floyd said, grin-grimacing at his tough luck in the sixth. I had a couple of bad pitches, and sometimes you hope those go at fielders. I just try to execute and hope for the best. It wasnt the best today.

Every time we come back, they score more, said Jones, who noted that through work with White Sox batting coach Greg Walker hes hitting more like he did during his Atlanta Braves heyday. But weve got to keep battling. Theyre on a good hot streak and everything is going their way.

Juan Pierres fourth hit of the night drove home Beckham, and it appeared that another game-tying rally on Minnesota closer Matt Capps was in the offing. But Capps extinguished Alexi Ramirez and Rios on corner grounders, and the Twins escaped.

Every game we play vs. Minnesota is a one-run game, Jones said. You look back and wonder if you could have just gotten that one more run, it would be different.

In spite of the heartbreaker, Chicago remains positive in light of a suddenly huge deficit and the hourglass reading just 43 games remaining, and four vs. the Twins.

Were not worried, but its tough, Jones said. We fought a long way to get where we want to be, and after one bad week, were down five games in the standings. Weve got to come back and get one game, then look forward to the next series.

Today and yesterday were big games for both clubs, Guillen said. Weve got to be ready for tomorrow and change things. Hopefully, this thing goes to the end. Theres a lot of season left, its a big game tomorrow again.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.