"You've got to give credit to [Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine]," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You throw strikes, you have a chance to win games. Last night, they had eight, nine walks. Today, they only got one. You give yourself a chance [if you] pitch well, and the kid did."
On the heels of an offensive outburst, the White Sox bats sputtered, connecting for only three hits off Sonnanstine. The right-hander went the distance, pitching a three-hit shutout against an offense that entered scoring an American League-leading 5.75 runs per game.
"He threw a breaking ball for a strike. He was keeping the guys off balance, so we couldn't get anything going." Guillen said. "This game is crazy, and that's the thing about baseball -- you don't know from one day to another."
It was the first time this season the Sox were held scoreless. Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede and Toby Hall had scattered singles, as Chicago did not record an extra-base hit and did not have a runner reach third base all night.
The South Siders' first four batters were held to only one hit, as Sonnanstine pitched arguably the best game of his career, allowing only one baserunner, Cabrera, to reach scoring position.
"Tonight, he was that good," Nick Swisher said. "No excuses. We just didn't have our rhythm. You tip your hat."
In contrast, Mark Buehrle never looked to be quite as rhythmic. The veteran southpaw was tagged for 12 hits, the most he has given up in four starts this season.
"Mark was off a little bit," Guillen conceded. "When you play behind him, you are out there to make the plays, because the ball is going to be in play a lot. ... We did not play good defense for him today."
Although the White Sox weren't formally charged with any errors, many of the Rays' hits were placed just out of defenders' reach and was frustrating for Buehrle, who admittedly was not on top of his game.
"For a guy like me that gets hit ... I need every out," he said. "I need the defense behind me."
It was the second start where Guillen said Buehrle had not received amicable support from the defense, citing his Opening Day no-decision as the other. Still, the lefty shared the blame in Saturday night's loss, saying he got behind hitters too often and paid the price.
"I've got to make better pitches, got to get them out," Buehrle said.
Jonny Gomes had a rare stolen base off Buehrle, escaping a rundown unscathed with two outs in the second inning. That would come back to haunt Chicago, as Tampa Bay followed the play with four straight singles, taking its first lead of the series in a three-run inning.
"When you do a rundown, you cannot play hot potato out there," Guillen said. "You got to make the guy run hard as you can and then give up the ball."
The skipper acknowledged it was a big play, but also said he didn't think it was the reason the White Sox lost, citing the team's struggles to get out of the two-out jam instead.
Gomes caused trouble again when he blasted Buehrle's first pitch just shy of the center-field fence for a triple to open the fourth inning. The outfielder scored the Rays' fourth run on a sacrifice fly from Shawn Riggans, and Tampa Bay tacked on its final run in the eighth inning.
The loss snapped the White Sox six-game win streak over the Rays, and with Sunday afternoon's rubber game looming.
Playing without several starters, Guillen said the Sox will go with their "A" lineup for the final game of the series. Paul Konerko is the only starter who will not be used, as Swisher will take over first base.
"The way we hit today, I'm not going to take any chances," Guillen said. "I'm going to go to the big boys."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.