Looking for his first victory since Aug. 19, the 29-year-old is 0-3 this season with a 9.39 ERA, and has dropped nine decisions over his last 10 starts. The Devil Rays have been outscored 28-4 in his three outings this year, and he has allowed 16 runs, 23 hits, seven walks, five homers and thrown three wild pitches in just 15 1-3 innings.
Gonzalez, who was removed from the rotation just last Sunday, is starting in place of struggling left-hander Mark Hendrickson.
“I told you we were going to tinker with the rotation,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. “And we’ll continue to play with it until we find the right combination. And we will.”
The last time he faced the White Sox, a 5-0 loss on Sunday, Gonzalez gave up five runs and 10 hits, walking two in 5 2-3 innings. But Piniella said he wants a right-hander going against the predominantly right-handed Chicago lineup.
Coming off a 4-1 win on Saturday, the Devil Rays are trying to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Julio Lugo drove in two runs and Doug Waechter allowed one run in six innings as Tampa Bay posted just its second win in seven games.
The White Sox, who have also failed to win back-to-back games, have dropped three of their last five.
Chicago slugger Frank Thomas homered for the second straight day after missing three games because of a hamstring injury. In the sixth inning, he was hit in the left shoulder by a Waechter pitch. Thomas took a step toward the mound, but plate umpire Ed Rapuano quickly got in front of him. Both benches emptied, but order quickly was restored.
“We’re trying to crowd him at the plate,” Piniella said. “Frank’s swinging the bat well. Make some mistakes on him and he’ll make you pay.”
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen thought Tampa Bay was retaliating after Carl Crawford was hit in the fifth inning by starter Dan Wright. Guillen walked out to the mound and asked Wright if he hit Crawford intentionally.
“I talked to Danny to see if he was hitting this kid on purpose or not,” Guillen said. “He said he didn’t, but that’s part of the game.”
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