Whether it's a 10-game road trip or a 10-game homestand, the White Sox keep learning the same lesson: Either they're going to have to score more runs, or they're going to have to tighten up their defense.
The Sox watched an early 3-1 lead slip away through a combination of hitting beating pitching, and then the run-prevention unit beating itself.
Nate Jones started it when he took the mound for his second inning. He's not to blame for the soft Sean Rodriguez single that dropped in front of a deep-playing Dewayne Wise, but the wild pitch that put Rodriguez into scoring position with one out didn't work. Nor did the walk to Matt Joyce, because that brought the middle of the order to the plate.
Ben Zobrist hit a hard line drive past Jones' glove into center to give the Rays the lead. Jones walked Evan Longoria to load the bases, and so Robin Ventura called for Matt Thornton face James Loney. Thornton threw exactly one pitch, getting Loney to hit a shallow flyout to center, freezing the runners.
Ventura then took an incredulous-looking Thornton out for Jesse Crain. Ryan Roberts worked Crain for a full count, but it appeared Crain got the best of him when Roberts hit a lazy fly to right field. Alex Rios got a late break on it, and though he did catch up to get his glove under it, he wasn't able to catch it. The error gave the Rays two more runs, and that was plenty against a Sox offense that struggles to top five. Deunte Heath added two more by issuing a pair of two-out walks before Zobrist (single) and Longoria (double).
The White Sox offense had a nice start against David Price, but couldn't do much after.
Adam Dunn drove in Rios with a single in the first inning, and although Paul Konerko killed that threat by pulling an A.J. Pierzynski (trying to take an extra base on a throw likely to be cut off) at third, he made up for it two innings later. He crushed a rolling Price slider over the left field wall for a two-run homer, giving the Sox a 3-1 lead.
But the offense went quiet after that. Price lasted seven innings and retired 12 of the last 14 they faced. The Sox didn't get another runner to scoring position, and their best chance exploded on itself in the seventh. Conor Gillaspie led off with a single, but when Robin Ventura called for the hit-and-run with Tyler Flowers, it resulted in a double play. Flowers hit a screamer -- right to Zobrist at short, turning it into an easy 6-3.
Dylan Axelrod did what he does, battling a more talented pitcher to a draw. He threw a quality start, but it was of the disappointing variety. He held a 3-1 lead entering the sixth inning, but he gave up a two-run homer to Matt Joyce to tie the game. Then again, considering he spent most of the game working from behind in the count, it could have been a lot worse for him. He ended up with a no-decision, which is better than the Sox can say.
- It's hard to get a read on Gillaspie's defense at third. He committed an error by not getting the glove down on a weak grounder to his left, but then he robbed Longoria of a double with a brilliant diving stab-and-throw to his left.
- For the second time, Alexei Ramirez was picked off at first, but somehow made it into second thanks to a brilliant evasive slide around Zobrist's tag.
- Flowers broke a different slump by throwing out Desmond Jennings at second after Gillaspie's leadoff error. Axelrod paid attention and gave him a pitch to work with, and now Flowers is 3-for-17.