With the Phillies (33-31) holding a three-run lead in the ninth inning over a listless White Sox offense managing just five singles over the first eight innings, the fans at Citizens Bank Park began chanting Jim Thome's name. Thome, who played first base for the Phillies from 2003-05, apparently earned a healthy dose of respect from the often terse fans in Philadelphia.
And when Thome stepped on deck with two outs and Juan Uribe on first base, the home crowd answered its own call with a scattered standing ovation. It was the only thing worth cheering about in regard to the White Sox (27-33) for the beginning of a six-game Interleague road trip.
Actually, Javier Vazquez (3-5) turned in a strong effort on the mound, basically making three mistakes over six innings. With the way the White Sox have been hitting during the 2007 season, that's three mistakes too many for a shot at victory.
It was a frustrating loss for Vazquez, who yielded four hits and struck out four. The frustration has turned into bewilderment for manager Ozzie Guillen, who came up with an interesting postgame metaphor to describe his exasperation.
"Right now, it's like watching ESPNews after 11 o'clock at night," Guillen said. "It's the same thing over and over for 24 hours. That's what it seems right now.
"Our starting rotation [does] everything in their power to keep us in the game. But it's hard for them to be perfect every time."
Those three Vazquez mistakes turned into solo home runs from Pat Burrell with one out in the second (No. 8), from Howard (No. 13) with two outs in the fourth and from Jimmy Rollins (No. 11) leading off the sixth. Adam Eaton (7-4) made those runs stand up, working seven scoreless innings, yielding four hits and striking out five.
That's right, the same Eaton who entered the game with a 5.99 ERA shut down the White Sox attack.
Uribe and Luis Terrero produced two of those four hits back-to-back to open the fifth, with line-drive singles, putting runners on first and second. But Josh Fields struck out looking and Eaton made a diving catch on Vazquez's bunt attempt for the second out, before Rob Mackowiak grounded out to Ryan Howard, who flipped to Eaton covering to end the threat.
Falling short with runners in scoring position seems like nothing new for the White Sox, who have a .239 average in those situations, ranking them 13th in the American League.
"We [haven't] had the clutch hitting all year long," Guillen said. "At least I don't remember any clutch hitting. Then, I look up and they have three hits and three runs. It seems to happen to us all the time."
While the fifth shutout seemed to slightly unnerve Guillen, his postgame attitude wasn't helped out any in regard to the medical update concerning Freddy Garcia. His close friend and the pitcher acquired by the Phillies from the White Sox this past offseason was found during a Monday examination to have some pathology in his right labrum and some fraying of the rotator cuff.
Garcia planned on getting a second opinion, while Guillen hoped against surgery for the talented right-hander.
"He's like part of my family," said Guillen of Garcia. "When you hear that, you don't want that to happen to anyone, especially a good friend.
"You guys [are] missing a pretty good pitcher and a professional guy, a competitor," added Guillen, speaking to the Philadelphia media. "Too bad he can't pitch for [the Phillies]."
Even Garcia at his best, as he was during last September for the White Sox, might not have been able to rescue the South Siders at this point. They stayed nine games behind the Indians in the American League Central but also slipped eight games behind the Tigers, after putting more than one runner on base in just three innings.
"Obviously, it's frustrating for the whole team," Vazquez said. "I know they want to hit and score runs and it's not happening."
"I [don't] have the answers. You have to ask our hitting coach, the players, what's going on," Guillen added. "I see the same stuff, day in and day out."
Before concluding his postgame chat, Guillen made one more comical connection to the paltry White Sox attack and his past dating life. In order to make his point, Guillen looked back to Sunday's nine-hit, three-home run victory as a harbinger of things to come.
"It's like when you have your girlfriend and you are going out and you start kissing her and she says she has to go home because she has school tomorrow morning," Guillen said. "That's what happened [Sunday]. I was a little excited because we were getting going good.
"Today, it was back to the same stuff," Guillen added.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less