The Chicago White Sox watched their lead in the AL Central slip to just a half-game, losing to the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Tuesday, and doing so a bit short-handed.
The suddenly red-hot Detroit Tigers edged the New York Yankees 6-5 to keep the pressure on the division race.
The Sox were missing two key players from their lineup. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis was a late scratch because of a sore right knee, and outfielder Alejandro De Aja was sidelined for a second consecutive game due to stiffness in his lower back.
De Aza could return Wednesday, but with Thursday an off day, it's more likely that manager Robin Ventura would sit De Aza one more day to rest his back. De Aza could then return on Friday against Oakland.
"It is tough (to be out), but I just want to get better," said De Aza, who added that certain movements bother him with the back, but he didn't deem it serious. "I'd rather lose two or three days and get healthy and then go back to play instead of trying to play and get worse."
Ventura said that De Aza, who was hitting .289 from the leadoff spot, would be evaluated when he arrived at the ballpark Wednesday, and then a decision would be made.
"Even (Monday) night, (De Aza) felt better as the game went along," Ventura said, "so he was ready to go in if he had to."
With De Aza sidelined, Gordon Beckham hit leadoff, while Jordan Danks stepped in defensively in center field.
As for Youkilis, he was replaced at third by Rey Olmedo. Like De Aza, Youkilis will be looked at Wednesday, and his status will be determined then.
That didn't help the cause Tuesday, however, as Danks and Olmedo combined to go 1-for-6 in the loss to the Royals.
The Sox actually held the lead going into the seventh, before Jake Peavy allowed two of the three runs he gave up on the night during the seventh. The Royals then added two more in the eighth inning, taking control of the game.
Not exactly what the Sox have been used to, especially because of how well they seem to play in close games. The Sox have played 68 games decided by three runs or fewer this season, and they were 16-13 in one-run games, 11-15 in two-run games and 8-4 in three-run games. Make that 8-5 in three-run games now, thanks to the Royals.
"They're used to it," Ventura said of his team playing well in close games this season. "We've played a lot of close games. For us, playing a close game is a normal game. Losing those doesn't set them back. We have good pitching, so we're usually in games whether the offense is going or not. They just have a feeling that they're going to win games."