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updated: 9/26/2012 11:28 PM

White Sox fall out of first place

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  • The Indians' Vinny Rottino celebrates with third-base coach Steve Smith after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning to put the White Sox behind 6-4.

      The Indians' Vinny Rottino celebrates with third-base coach Steve Smith after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning to put the White Sox behind 6-4.
    Associated Press

 
 

The White Sox hear the same question day after day. And night after night.

"You guys relaxed? Having fun? Enjoying the playoff race?"

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The Sox give the same answer.

"What's the pressure?" Adam Dunn said. "There's no pressure. You're going out playing hard every day like you did from Day One. You can make pressure from anything. Anybody can add pressure. Once you add pressure, it's hard to work that way."

"You've got to try to make it fun," said Jake Peavy, who starts against Tampa By on Thursday night. "That's the thing. We've got to play as loose as we possibly can, knowing what's on the line, and go out and do what we've done all year. We've really done well when we've had some adversity this year."

Peavy is right, and now we'll see how the White Sox respond to their most dire situation of the season.

After seemingly having no fun at all in a 6-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, the Sox fell out of first place in the AL Central.

Considering there are only seven games left in the regular season and they have no realistic shot at grabbing a wild-card spot, the White Sox' improbable playoff run is quickly veering off course at the worst possible time.

Not only did the White Sox lose two of three home games to a team that is 65-91, they've dropped seven of eight and are out of first place for the first time since July 23.

"We're going to continue to battle," manager Robin Ventura said. "We're going to scratch and claw. We don't plan on going anywhere."

Wednesday's game started out on a promising note as the Sox scored 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk in the first inning after the Indians took a quick 1-0 lead against rookie starter Hector Santiago.

Even better, or so it seemed, the White Sox didn't need a home run to get on the scoreboard as they threatened to knock out Cleveland starter Justin Masterson early.

Instead, Paul Konerko drew a bases-loaded walk, Alex Rios hit a sacrifice fly and A.J. Pierzynski followed with an RBI double.

The Sox appeared to be happy with the 3 runs, but with Konerko on third base and Pierzynski on second with only one out, Alexei Ramirez and Dewayne Wise grounded out to end what could have been a blowout first inning.

And as the Detroit Tigers rallied from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Kansas City 5-4 at Comerica Park, the White Sox failed to keep pace.

The Sox stopped hitting after the first inning, outside of Ramirez's run-scoring double with two outs in the fifth inning to give them a 4-3 lead.

"We needed home runs today," Ventura said. "We did everything else, but a home run would have been nice."

The Indians took advantage of a White Sox pitching staff that looks to be out of gas.

Santiago and six Sox relief pitchers combined to issue 12 walks, sapping most of the excitement out of another small crowd of 20,166.

"There were a lot of tough situations tonight," Ventura said. "They were either looking for the strikeout or trying to make the perfect pitch."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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