The White Sox aren't quite ready to make a concession speech.
But they are running out of time and running out of excuses while continuing to play like it's the first week of spring training instead of the last week of the regular season.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself," Paul Konerko said. "Sometimes in the game it's cruel and sometimes what you get out of it isn't what you put into it. But you know that going in. We know that. It's tough. There's nothing else to say."
The Sox are not guilty of slacking off. They prepare for games as hard as any team in baseball, and the collective attitude is sound.
They just can't seem to string big hits together, and it really came back to bite them Thursday night in an agonizing 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Sometimes guys just try a little too hard and it doesn't work because baseball is not a game like football where you can try harder and get a better effort," A.J. Pierzynski said. "You've just got to do what you got to do. It's tough, but it's part of the game and tomorrow's a new day."
When they hit the sack after their eighth loss in nine games, the White Sox were 2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central with six to play. Detroit's magic number is 5.
The latest slip really hurt because Sox starter Jake Peavy pitched his heart out and the offense squandered three prime opportunities.
"There ain't nobody to blame," Peavy said after pitching 7 innings and allowing 2 runs on 4 hits. "I think everybody in here will take accountability for the way we've played.
"We had it right there in front of us a lot tonight and throughout the last week-and-a-half. We just haven't been able to capitalize on either side of the ball."
Facing one of the hottest starting pitchers in the game, Rays right-hander James Shields, the White Sox had back-to-back shots at breaking the game open.
They loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning and scored only 1 run -- when Dayan Viciedo was hit by a pitch.
The Sox again loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth and came away with 1 run -- when Konerko grounded into a double play.
"James Shields is pretty tough, but we should be better there," Konerko said. "He made some pitches on some guys. He is good, and the good ones ramp it up in those situations. But having said that, you'd like to get more."
Manager Robin Ventura was not at all happy with coming up virtually empty in the fourth and fifth innings, and he was even more perturbed with the eighth.
With the score tied at 2-2 and Joel Peralta on in relief for the Rays, Pierzynski led off the inning with a single.
Ventura had Jordan Danks pinch run for Pierzynski and Dewayne Wise pinch hit for Viciedo. Wise twice failed to get a bunt down and struck out swinging.
Danks got a great jump on a hit-and-run call as the Sox' next batter, Alexei Ramirez, flied out to deep center field. With plenty of time to retreat back to first base, Danks failed to touch second base on his way back and the White Sox were doubled up.
Evan Longoria homered off Brett Myers with one out in the ninth inning, and that decided the outcome.
"Tonight, you don't execute you're not going to win, it's that simple," Ventura said. "We had opportunities, even late, and we didn't do the fundamental things to win the game."