It's still early to consider a game essential.
But when you look at the state of the White Sox' rotation, that was a pretty important game for the South Siders on Tuesday night at home.
With Phil Humber and Gavin Floyd pitching poorly, John Danks hurt, and Chris Sale getting hit last Friday in Los Angeles, the Sox needed something great again from Jake Peavy.
They got it -- again -- and it wasn't enough -- again.
Facing the worst team in baseball, the Sox lost for the second straight night to the Cubs.
With Cleveland's extra-inning victory over Cincinnati, the Indians took over first place, however temporary that may be. Of bigger concern is Detroit. With the Tigers winning at home against St. Louis, Detroit climbed to within 1½ games of the Sox in the A.L. Central.
The Sox have lost six of seven while Detroit has taken seven of nine, and fears that the Tigers would go on that long-awaited run might finally be realized at a time when the Sox are hurting for pitching.
"Detroit hasn't even hit their stride yet, but they're coming," Peavy said after the Cubs defeated the Sox 2-1. "Cleveland's not going away, either."
While a Peavy gem was wasted for the second straight start, most disturbing, perhaps, is the Sox' offense managing a run on 4 hits in six innings against lefty Travis Wood, who walked four and entered the game 0-3 with a 4.58 ERA.
It obviously bothered Paul Konerko (1-for-4), who went to the cage for more work after the game and made it to the clubhouse after many of his teammates already were gone for the evening.
"No disrespect, but a team playing the way the Cubs have been playing, that's a team we should beat and we have to take advantage of that," Peavy said. "We have to make the most of these opportunities."
Peavy did his part, throwing a complete game in defeat, tossing 125 pitches and giving up just 1 earned run on 5 hits and a walk vs. 5 strikeouts.
Peavy (6-3) has lost his last 2 starts while allowing a total of 2 earned runs on 9 hits in 16 innings, losing by scores of 1-0 and 2-1. On the season, the Sox have scored 2 runs in his 3 defeats and in those games he has an ERA of 1.08.
"That's frustrating because he pitched great," said Sox manager Robin Ventura. "He deserved better."
The Sox led 1-0 in the third when third baseman Orlando Hudson was at the center of another defensive inning that cost the Sox some runs.
With one out, Hudson's terrible throw pulled Konerko off the bag and Geovany Soto was safe at first on the error. Tony Campana then singled off Peavy's heel and a quiet inning was suddenly a problem.
After a wild pitch, David DeJesus singled in a pair, and that's all the Cubs would need against a silent Sox offense.
"We're just not playing good fundamental baseball," Peavy said. "When you're going bad, little things will get you."
The scary part is the Sox have wasted 2 consecutive great starts by Peavy and need the unpredictable Floyd to come through Wednesday night in the series finale with the Cubs, making Tuesday's defeat feel much bigger than maybe it was in reality.
"I think it's too early to call that a 'big' one," Peavy said. "We're still in a great position and there's more than three months of baseball still to play."
It's true that there's a lot of baseball left on the schedule, but the Sox' great position is not as great as it was just a few days ago.
Detroit is coming. Gavin Floyd has the ball.
Maybe that's why it felt so big.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.