BOSTON—A waiting game has turned into varying degrees of anguish for the White Sox.
Though reinforcements will arrive Monday, trying to hold on to first place in the American League Central has become more difficult.
"We need to come back and try to get at least a win here and work from there," designated hitter Jim Thome said. "Every game now is important, and we understand that."
The Sox (76-59) lost for the third straight time for the first time since July 27-29, when their lead was cut to a half-game.
"The only difference between this night and last year was that last year was a Triple-X movie," said manager Ozzie Guillen, referring to Boston's pasting of a non-contending Sox team last year at Fenway Park.
"Right now, it's just PG-13."
Nevertheless, the Sox have been outscored 27-5 during their skid.
The starting pitchers have surrendered 14 earned runs in 142/3 innings after staff ace Mark Buehrle allowed seven runs on 11 hits in 42/3 innings.
The White Sox were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, one night after placing one runner in scoring position in a listless 8-0 loss.
"We have a powerful ballclub; it's all or nothing," Guillen said after the Sox didn't hit a home run in consecutive games for the first time since June 25-26. They hit 96 homers during a 55-game span before this drought, but 114 of their 198 homers this season have been solo shots.
They also are strengthening the case of Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia as the AL's most valuable player. With chants of "MVP, MVP" from a sellout crowd of 37,751, Pedroia went 4-for-4 for the second consecutive game and has reached base safely in all 10 plate appearances against the Sox.
"I never thought I would [intentionally] walk a jockey," Guillen joked, referring to Pedroia's 5-foot-7-inch height. "I must be the worst manager ever in the history of baseball right now, walking a guy that just came from being on the top of Big Brown to beat the White Sox.
"Right now he's on a roll."
Pedroia, who is batting .327 with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs, singled during a three-run first. Jermaine Dye then ran toward the right-field foul pole in an attempt to catch Jason Bay's drive, but the ball landed well behind him for a two-run double.
Trailing 7-2 in the eighth, A.J. Pierzynski was caught easily while trying to advance from second to third on a grounder to third base for the first out.
Pierzynski's mistake was witnessed by Mike Port, Major League Baseball's vice president of umpires, who said umpire Doug Eddings had incorrectly ruled that Tampa Bay's Willy Aybar obstructed Pierzynski on a crucial call in the Sox's victory last Sunday.
"You can do so much to make them go and fight," Guillen said.
"They are the ones who have to fight. We are in the corner."