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White Sox know time is running out

White Sox know time is running out

SEATTLE -- Even before Thursday night's heartbreaking loss in 14 innings at Safeco Field, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had the perfect description to describe his team's uneven run toward the postseason.

"This is a tease, man," said Guillen, whose team had alternated wins and losses since Sept. 5, until suffering its second straight defeat on Thursday. "That's where we are right now. That's the way we are. Like I say, it doesn't matter what Detroit does. It only matters what we do.

"They are going to lose some games. But if we keep losing the way we are losing, it doesn't matter if Detroit loses four games in a row. It's all about what we do and what we can do to help ourselves to put ourselves in a good position to compete at the end of the season."

Thursday's game not only didn't help the White Sox, but might have served as the final knockout punch delivered to the South Siders' remote American League Central title hopes. Leading, 3-1, in the ninth, closer Bobby Jenks gave up two home runs in the same outing for the first time in his career.

When Ichiro Suzuki singled home Ryan Langerhans with the game-winner in the 14th, the White Sox elimination number painfully had been reduced to 10. But if all hope really has not been lost, then the White Sox need to start their turnaround with last-place Kansas City coming to town on Friday.

Of course, it's the same Royals who have won six of their last seven games against the first-place Tigers.

"That happened with Baltimore and Oakland and we got our butt kicked," said Guillen of underestimating a team sitting close to 30 games under .500. "You think, 'We beat Boston and this is the best team in the American League right now,' and all of a sudden we lose against Baltimore and everything goes south.

"Every team right now out of the pennant race, first of all, if you are in the pennant race, they don't want you to get there because they are already out. They play loose. I don't want to say for fun, but more loose than anyone else because they have nothing to lose."

Another loss or two like Thursday's for the White Sox and they too will become one of those teams out of the pennant race. Mark Buehrle will try to prevent that from happening for at least one more day.

"Our horse is going and hopefully he gets a win tomorrow," said White Sox starter John Danks, who deserved a better fate Thursday, after allowing one run in matching a career high of working eight innings. "Mathematically, we are still in it.

"But even if we catch Detroit, we know we have to jump Minnesota, too. We are in a tough spot. We are running out of games pretty fast here. We have to kind of win out to give us a chance."

Pitching matchup
CWS: LHP Mark Buehrle (12-8, 3.73 ERA)
Buehrle needs to work two innings against the Royals to reach 200 for a ninth straight season as a starter, and he needs two strikeouts to reach 100 for the eighth time in his career. Buehrle also will be looking for his seventh season as a starter in which he posted an ERA under 4.00. In his 10 starts since throwing the 18th perfect game in Major League history on July 23, Buehrle has won just once, but against the Angels on Sunday, Buehrle certainly pitched well enough to win. He gave up just two earned runs on five hits over seven innings, but Torii Hunter's home run in the seventh was the margin of difference in a 3-2 loss. It was the 26th home run Buehrle gave up in the 2009 campaign. He has a 1-0 record in four starts this season against the Royals, and is 20-8 lifetime vs. Kansas City.

KC: RHP Luke Hochevar (6-10, 6.23 ERA)
Big innings have done Hochevar in all year and Saturday's loss was no different. Hochevar pitched well for the first three innings, but a two-run fourth and a three-run fifth did him in. He gave up five earned in five innings in all. It was his ninth straight start without a win. Hochevar had trouble tipping his pitches earlier in the year, but he said that wasn't the reason for his latest bad outing. He just couldn't locate his pitches when it mattered. He will try to regroup against the White Sox, whom he is 1-2 against with a 4.82 ERA in his career.

Tidbits
Danks earned the praise of Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu for the left-hander's phenomenal effort. Wakamatsu also understood why Guillen pulled Danks after 97 pitches and went to Jenks. "I know he has been battling a finger injury, so I think that's probably got a lot to do with it -- exposing him this late in the season to any more of that," Wakamatsu said. "To do what we did against Bobby Jenks, that's a pretty special closer in the game and the two home runs obviously lifted us." ... Danks said that he definitely felt as if he was pitching in September, with his eight innings giving him 180 1/3 for the season. But he pointed to a solid changeup for bailing out of the occasional tough spots on Thursday. ... Mark Kotsay is hitting .400 with 12 RBIs in his last 10 games and had his first four-hit game this season on Thursday. ... Alexei Ramirez has a seven-game hitting streak and an 11-game run on the road. ... The White Sox are 4-6 in extra-inning games this season. ... The White Sox are hosting a Sox Tweet-Up at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday as part of a Patio Party. The specially priced ticket goes for $59, including a Patio Party ticket and a Lower Reserved game ticket. ... The White Sox finished with four hits during 8 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from the Mariners bullpen.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• WCIU

On radio
• WSCR 670, WRTO 1200 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: White Sox (Jake Peavy, 6-6, 3.97) vs. Royals (Kyle Davies, 8-9, 5.27), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: White Sox (Freddy Garcia, 2-2, 4.41) vs. Royals (Robinson Tejeda, 3-1, 3.09), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: White Sox (TBD) vs. Twins (Nick Blackburn, 10-11, 4.34), 7:11 p.m. CT

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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