After wasting a golden opportunity to move into a tie atop the wild card standings and gain ground in the AL Central race, the slumping Chicago White Sox continue a four-game series with the surging Cleveland Indians on Friday.
While Chicago (80-60) plays its series against Cleveland (67-72), first-place Detroit is playing a four-game set versus second-place Minnesota.
The third-place White Sox, who have lost six of their last eight, are one-half game behind the Twins for the wild card and 5 1/2 in back of the Tigers for the division lead.
Chicago was routed 9-1 in the series opener Thursday. The White Sox trailed 7-0 before Rob Mackowiak recorded the team’s first hit with a single leading off the bottom of the fifth.
Chicago got another poor outing from starter Mark Buehrle, who allowed five runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings. White Sox hitters did little damage against Indians starter Cliff Lee, who gave up one run and five hits over six innings.
“I think you can blame the season on the starting staff. We haven’t been where we wanted to be and where we were last year,” Buehrle said. “Everybody had career years last year, and I don’t think you can expect every guy to duplicate what happened last season.
“Obviously, we’re not close to what we did last year, and that’s been our downfall.”
The defending World Series champions will turn to another struggling pitcher when Freddy Garcia (13-9, 5.10 ERA) goes on Friday.
Garcia is 0-3 with an 11.25 ERA in three starts against the Indians this season. He’s also 3-5 with a 5.70 ERA in his last 12 starts.
The right-hander gave up five runs on eight hits over seven-plus innings in a 7-3 loss to Kansas City on Sunday.
“I thought Freddy threw the ball real good and was effective for us,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Garcia will get a huge break if Indians slugger Travis Hafner misses his seventh straight game with a bruised hand. Hafner, who leads the Indians with 42 homers and 117 RBIs including six grand slams, is hitting .484 (15-for-31) with four homers and seven RBIs in his career versus Garcia.
Hafner took limited batting practice before Thursday’s win, Cleveland’s eighth in their last 12 on the road and 13th of 18 overall.
Paul Byrd (9-7, 4.78) gets the start for the Indians in the second game of the series. The right-hander lost for the first time since July 5, a span of 10 starts, his last time out when he surrendered four runs and 10 hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 5-2 loss to Texas on Sunday.
He took a shutout into the seventh inning before the Rangers did all their scoring.
“I thought I threw great,” Byrd said. “It was one of my best games of the year. They did a good job in the seventh of just putting the ball in play.”
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.82 ERA in three career starts at U.S. Cellular Field.
White Sox third baseman Joe Crede sat out Thursday’s loss with a sore back and is listed as day-to-day.
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