ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Ozzie Guillen doesn’t know what it is about Tropicana Field. His Chicago White Sox just don’t seem to be able to score a lot of runs in the domed stadium.
“It’s hard to believe,” Guillen said Thursday night, noting the problems his team had here last season, including a pair of losses to the AL champions in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We come in here and get hits, and you only score three runs. … It’s kind of like: ‘There we go again.’ It’s something about this ballpark, I guess.”
John Danks (1-0) pitched six strong innings, limiting the Rays to two hits and had a shutout until Carlos Pena homered with one out in the sixth. Dioner Navarro had the other hit off the left-hander, a two-out single in the second inning.
Dye, who was 3-for-5, homered off Jeff Niemann (0-2) in the second. The White Sox wasted several opportunities to break the game open against the right-hander, including the sixth, when they loaded the bases with one out and failed to score.
Chicago went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and only one of the hits—Josh Field’s infield single in the ninth—produced a run for a 3-1 lead.
The Rays, who have lost three straight, struggled in key situations, too. They were 0-for-8 against Danks and relievers Octavio Dotel and Matt Thornton, who escaped jams in the seventh and eighth with the tying run on second base.
“Every run is important in this ballpark. That team led the league in comeback wins last year, and you can see why,” Guillen said. “They get guys on bases. They steal bases. They make a lot of things happen.”
Though not lately.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the ninth against closer Bobby Jenks on a single, an error and a walk. Carl Crawford grounded into a force play, driving in a run before Jenks got his third save when Gabe Gross grounded to first.
“We’re just not on top of our game offensively,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who has watched his team struggle since having 17 hits in consecutive games and scoring 26 runs in victories Sunday and Monday over Baltimore and the New York Yankees.
Danks walked four and struck out eight and improved to 4-1 against the Rays, with all four of the victories coming at Tropicana Field. Pena’s homer, the slugger’s fourth in five days, is the only run Danks has allowed in 12 innings this season.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was ejected during the sixth inning for arguing an umpire’s decision.
Maddon contended that Dye hit a grounder fair to third base rather than fouled the ball off his foot.
The player hopped and limped out of the batter’s box as if the ball hit his foot before rolling up the third base line, where Willy Aybar fielded it and threw to first for the apparent out.
Dye complained, asking plate umpire Brian Gorman to look at his left shoe. The umpire crew huddled briefly, then inspected the ball and ruled it a foul.
Maddon thought he had a good argument.
“You can’t use the mark on the ball as a review because some players use black bats. Furthermore, the guy was wearing gray shoes. So it was pretty difficult to get a black mark on the ball from a gray shoe,” the manager said.
“And the last point I made is, none of them saw it. None of them called foul ball.”
Television replays appeared to confirm the ball struck Dye’s shoe.
Niemann struggled in his first start of the season last week, allowing five first-inning runs, including Melvin Mora’s grand slam, in a 6-0 loss at Baltimore.
He got off to a better start Thursday night, fanning two in a one-two-three first. But he walked Jim Thome leading off the second and then gave up the 301st home run of Dye’s career. A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez singled with one out, then advanced on a wild pitch before the Sox stranded them scoring position.
Niemann also worked out of tight spots in the fourth and fifth innings to keep Tampa Bay in the game.
“Overall, it was a decent start, other than the one pitch,” Niemann said. “But that one pitch was enough to beat us.”
White Sox 2B Chris Getz was back in the lineup after missing three games with a bruised right triceps. … Rays 3B Evan Longoria missed his second straight game because of a death in the family. He’s expected to rejoin the team on Friday. … Injured Rays RHP Jason Isringhausen is scheduled to pitch two innings in extended spring training Saturday, then head to Double-A Montgomery on Monday. The plan is for him to pitch a couple of times there, then head to Triple-A Durham. … Dye’s homer was his 140th since joining the White Sox in 2005 and moved him into a tie with Ron Kittle for ninth on Chicago’s career list. … Pena has four homers and nine RBIs in his last five games. … Attendance was 13,803. The Rays drew 99,117 for a three-game series against the Yankees that ended Wednesday.