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Sunday, September 23, 2012
White Sox's lead continues to shrink

By Bruce Levine



ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Chicago White Sox's three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers has all but evaporated in five days after losing their fourth straight game, 4-2 to the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday.

Although the Sox retain a game lead on the Tigers, the teams are now tied in the loss column. Robin Ventura’s team is in an offensive slump that has them fighting to retain their lead and, more importantly, some semblance of confidence in themselves.

“This is baseball,” said the Sox manager, who was ejected for arguing a balk call on his pitcher and first baseman in the fourth inning. “There is stress and stuff like that because you want to win games.”

Angels starter Dan Haren looked hittable but only gave up two runs in his six-plus innings of work. Paul Konerko, one of the slumping Sox hitters of late, broke out of his 3-for-21 rut with a home run (No. 24) off of Haren in the second inning. The Sox have scored just seven runs during this four-game losing streak.

Starter Jose Quintana had a self destructive first inning. The rookie left-hander allowed four runs, only three earned due to his own nervous error on a Torii Hunter bunt back to the mound. Two walks also ended up crossing the plate.

“There were some better signs tonight,” Konerko said. “You don’t want your starter to get off to a start like that in the first inning. Like so many times, Q battled back like he has all season and threw a decent game.”

But his five innings of four-run ball were still too much for Chicago to overcome.

The team’s hitting slump has dragged the club’s confidence down after Monday’s one-game make-up win over Detroit in Chicago. On Saturday, Detroit had already defeated the Minnesota Twins before the Sox-Angels game began. The question is if that had raised the anxiety level for the suddenly tensed up Sox.

“I think it is all a mindset,” Konerko said. “I not only assumed they won today but that they will win tomorrow. You are not playing head-to-head so that’s how you have to play it in your mind.”

The resilient Sox team has just 11 games left in the season to get its act back together and win the division.

“Detroit’s a good team and they will win their fair share of games but I don’t think they will go undefeated,” Konerko said. “That said, you assume (the Tigers) will win and try to take care of your business.”