ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—A weekend of wasted scoring opportunities left Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen fuming and promising changes.
“There’s only one message I’m going to send. Just get ready because I expect movement on Tuesday,” Guillen said Sunday after the AL Central leaders lost their third straight game to the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3 in 10 innings.
The White Sox went 5-for-39 with runners in scoring position during the four-game series, including 2-of-14 Sunday, when they stranded the potential go-ahead run at third base after getting a leadoff double in the top of the 10th.
Gabe Gross won it for the Rays, leading off the bottom of the inning with a home run for Tampa Bay’s second walk-off victory in three days. Cliff Floyd’s ninth-inning homer beat Chicago on Friday night, and Floyd homered again in the Rays’ 2-0 victory Saturday.
“I expect (general manager) Kenny (Williams) to do something Tuesday. Because if we don’t do anything Tuesday, there’s (going to be) a lot of change in the lineup. That’s all I’m going to say about the offense,” said Guillen, whose comments were spiced with an occasional expletive.
But the manager wasn’t finished.
“It could be me. It could be (hitting coach) Greg Walker, the players, anybody,” Guillen said. “I’m sick and tired watching this for a year and a half. I’m not protecting anybody anymore.”
Gross, making a rare start against left-handed pitching, lined a two-run triple off Mark Buehrle to make it 3-all in the fifth. The left-handed hitter then delivered his first career homer off a lefty on an 0-2 offering from Matt Thornton (1-1).
“I’ve never really thought about hitting a walk-off. But if I had, it wouldn’t have lived up to this,” said Gross, who was 6-for-64 lifetime against left-handers before his triple.
The surprising Rays maintained their one-game division lead over Boston, and they take their league-best record of 35-22 to Fenway Park for the start of a three-game series Tuesday night. Tampa Bay is 13 games over .500 for the first time in the team’s 11-season history.
“We’re getting to the point now where we’re not satisfied with yesterday’s win,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s a whole team effort right now. … I think every night we go out there is a good barometer. There are no breaks (in the schedule).”
The series finale against the White Sox drew a crowd of 24,720. That was down from the sellout of 36,048 on Saturday night, when the big attraction was a postgame concert by country music star Trace Adkins, but well above the Rays’ AL-worst season average of 18,228.
J.P. Howell (4-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory, which enabled Tampa Bay to go 8-2 on the team’s longest homestand of the year. The Rays have won 10 of their last 12 series, including seven straight at home since losing two of three to the White Sox six weeks ago.
This time, Tampa Bay turned the tables to win three of four against Chicago, which got decent starting pitching but sputtered offensively in key situations.
“It’s a little of everything,” Konerko said about the team’s lack of production with runners in scoring position. “Good pitching. Bad decision making.”
And, as for Guillen’s comments about possible changes?
“He’s the manager. He can do what he wants,” Konerko said. “That doesn’t change what happened today.”
The White Sox were 2-of-9 with runners in scoring position against Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine, who gave up a two-run double to Alexei Ramirez in the second and Orlando Cabrera’s RBI single in the fifth to fall behind 3-1.
But Chicago’s inability to make the most of its early opportunities helped the Rays remain in the game.
B.J. Upton tripled and scored Tampa Bay’s first run in the fourth. Jonny Gomes and Shawn Riggans doubled in the fifth before Gross lined his triple to make it 3-all against Buehrle, who allowed seven hits in six innings.
Sonnanstine, who pitched a three-hitter to beat Buehrle 5-0 at Tropicana Field on April 19, allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Chicago squandered two scoring chances late, including the 10th inning, when it stranded pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna at third base after getting a leadoff double from Thome.
The White Sox bullpen has given up two earned runs in its last 32 innings, both of them walk-off homers in this series. … Despite driving in Tampa Bay’s first run, Carlos Pena continues to struggle at the plate. He was 2-for-15 with eight strikeouts in the series. … Quentin, who had seven homers and an AL-leading 27 RBIs in May, had the day off.