The Chicago White Sox are turning in a poor stretch of baseball at a terrible time.
They’ll try to avoid a third straight loss Tuesday night when they continue a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Chicago (79-58) lost for the fourth time in five games Monday, 3-2 in 10 innings. Closer Bobby Jenks failed in a bid for his major league-leading 40th save when he couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth.
The White Sox fell one-half game behind Minnesota for the AL wild-card lead. Boston (74-64) trails the Twins by six games.
MVP candidate Jermaine Dye left the game for Chicago in the seventh inning with tightness in his back. Dye is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts over his last three games.
Chicago has managed only 18 runs over the last five games as Scott Podsednik and A.J. Pierzynski have struggled. Podsednik is 2-for-13 and Pierzynski 3-for-16 in that stretch, and the two have combined to score only two runs.
“Do you know how many times I’m doing this in my backyard? It’s amazing,” said Pena, who grew up about 40 miles north of Boston and went to college at Northeastern. “It’s definitely the most exciting moment of my career, no doubt about it.”
Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon returned to Boston’s lineup after missing more than a month. Varitek went 0-for-3 after being out following knee surgery, and Nixon had an RBI single in three at-bats after missing time with a right biceps strain.
Manny Ramirez went 1-for-2 with two walks in his first action since missing eight games with tendinitis in his right knee.
“It’s nice to have more healthy bodies, for sure,” manager Terry Francona said. “You know, you put Manny in the lineup, and it looks a little different. You put Trot behind him and ‘Tek behind him, or behind Lowell, and you’re writing in some of the familiar names that we’ve been accustomed to, which is good.”
Boston improved to 3-1 against Chicago this year, with the teams splitting extra-inning contests in the last two. The White Sox won 6-5 in 19 innings on July 9.
Chicago’s Javier Vazquez (11-8, 4.98 ERA) seeks his first career regular-season victory at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Vazquez is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three outings at Fenway, not counting a win he earned in relief for the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the 2004 AL championship series.
The White Sox have dropped four straight games started by Vazquez, who’s 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA in that span. The right-hander gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings in his last outing, a 5-3, 10-inning loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
“I will take this outing every day from him,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He threw the ball real well.”
Rookie Kason Gabbard (0-3, 6.35) makes his career third start for Boston in search of his first victory. Gabbard is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in his first two starts, walking seven and striking out only four over 8 2-3 innings.
The 24-year-old left-hander is making his first appearance at Fenway Park.