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Vazquez not sharp in loss to old club

Vazquez not sharp in loss to old club

CHICAGO -- Wednesday evening's pregame press conference for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen opened with a question from a Chicago radio reporter about Mike Mussina.

"He's still pitching?" said Guillen, exhibiting perfect comedic timing when speaking of the Yankees' 39-year-old right-hander. "Good for him. I remember the first game that kid pitched. What happened with Mussina?"

What had happened with Mussina prior to Wednesday's contest between the White Sox and Yankees was that the veteran of 18 years had struggled out of the 2008 gates with a 5.75 ERA over four starts. What happened during the Yankees' 6-4 victory before 27,751 at U.S. Cellular Field is that Mussina found his way back in picking up career victory No. 252.

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Mussina certainly didn't overpower the White Sox (11-9), with Nick Swisher suggesting after the game that he seemingly changed speeds from 85-48 mph. But with Mussina also commanding four pitches for strikes, he managed to hold the South Siders to two runs on four hits over seven innings.

"That's pitching -- look it up, that's what it looks like," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who finished hitless in three at-bats but had a sacrifice fly to score a run in the eighth inning. "It didn't seem like he threw a bunch of mistakes in the middle of the plate. He hit the corners and missed off the corners. That's him."

"You have a guy like Moose on the mound, and he will find a way to stay out of the big jams and make the big pitch when he needed one," added Guillen of Mussina, who threw 66 of his 101 pitches for strikes, fanning three and walking one. "That's the type of game you are going to get. He knows how to compete."

While Mussina (2-3) was shutting down the White Sox, Javier Vazquez (3-2) watched his personal three-game winning streak come to a close. Vazquez had given up just five earned runs over his previous 20 1/3 innings, but he allowed six runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings on Wednesday.

Vazquez struck out three and walked three, as his career record against the Yankees dropped to 1-4 and his ERA against his former club rose to 6.14 ERA. The White Sox, as a unit, have lost seven of their last eight games against the Yankees (12-10) and five straight at U.S. Cellular Field.

On Wednesday, the Yankees made Vazquez work as he struggled to find his rhythm. They took control in the middle innings, with Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon each delivering two-run doubles, as New York scored two runs in the fifth inning and three in the sixth.

"Javy was off," said Guillen of Vazquez. "He was in heavy counts most of the time. They have a veteran team up there, and they know what to do. They make him pitch."

"I felt good physically, but I guess I didn't throw that many quality pitches," Vazquez added. "My rhythm wasn't there, and it was a battle."

The White Sox offense against Mussina primarily consisted of Joe Crede's sixth home run with one out in the fifth and Carlos Quentin's long ball with two outs in the seventh. It was Quentin's fifth of the season.

An eighth-inning rally against relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Billy Traber brought closer Mariano Rivera, who would earn his sixth save, into the game to record the final five outs. According to Guillen, the extended usage of Rivera once again illustrated how his team didn't give up when it was seemingly on pace for a sizable setback.

"We didn't roll over and quit in any at-bat," Guillen said. "We kept fighting. Sometimes you lose the fight, and sometimes you win it."

"Against these guys, we aren't playing terrible, but we are playing just well enough to lose," Konerko added. "We shouldn't be discouraged by it because we are in the game. It's not like we are getting killed, but it's just being a little bit better in every area, and we will be fine."

Two straight losses to the Yankees give the White Sox three losses in their last four games. They maintained first place in the American League Central for a 15th straight day, but they also slipped to 4-5 at home.

"Right now, we're swinging the bat better on the road than here," said Guillen, whose team lost back-to-back games for the first time since April 9-11. "Our offense has been quiet, and hopefully we start swinging the bats better.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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