Mismatch: Red Sox fall again to White Sox
CHICAGO - The White Sox have been underachievers all season, struggling to stay in contention in the American League Central despite a talented roster.
Tell that to the Red Sox, who can’t find a way to beat them.
Tim Wakefield pitched well but was denied his 200th victory as the White Sox beat the Red Sox, 3-1, before 27,513 at US Cellular Field last night.
The Red Sox have lost seven straight against the White Sox dating to last season, including four this year. Chicago is 14-5 against Boston since the start of the 2009 season.
“They play good against us and that’s basically it,’’ said Dustin Pedroia, who was 0 for 4, snapping a career-best 25-game hit streak. “We haven’t played well. They’ve swung the bats great and pitched well.’’
The Sox lost two in a row for the first time in a month but have Jon Lester on the mound tonight.
Wakefield (6-4) allowed three runs on three hits over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five, with A.J. Pierzynski’s two-run homer in the seventh inning providing the winning margin. Instead of 200 wins, it was Wakefield’s 176th loss.
“I felt great. I had a lot of movement on the knuckleball all night. I just left one pitch up,’’ Wakefield said.
Gavin Floyd (9-9) went seven innings for the win, holding the Sox to one run on three hits. Matt Thornton pitched a perfect eighth before Sergio Santos closed out the game for his 22d save.
The Sox got their run on a homer by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the third.
Floyd is 6-0 with a 3.47 earned run average in eight appearances against the Red Sox.
“We’ve seen him pitch very well. He is a good pitcher,’’ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “When he’s got all his pitches going, he goes through a lineup just like he did.’’
The Red Sox had only one hit over the final six innings and advanced just three runners beyond first base the entire game. Chicago pitchers retired the final 10 Sox batters. The game lasted 2 hours 10 minutes, the Red Sox’ quickest of the season.
“We’re not used to that,’’ Pedroia said.
The Red Sox played without first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was scratched an hour before the game because of a stiff neck. He played through the problem Thursday, going 2 for 4. But he could not turn his head without pain yesterday.
“I can’t turn my neck. I had to hit open and adjust my stance,’’ Gonzalez said. “I had it last year. It’s just something that I have to find out what causes it. I wake up one day and I can’t move it. It might just be wear, stress from swinging or throwing.’’
Gonzalez received treatment during the game and was on deck as a pinch hitter when the game ended. He hopes to play tonight.
It was the 454th start for Wakefield, tying him with Rick Wise for 78th place all-time. Among active pitchers, only Washington’s Livan Hernandez (467) has more.
Wakefield allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings but didn’t get a decision in a loss to the White Sox June 1 at Fenway Park. But he was sharp last night for the first five innings.
Wakefield retired the first eight White Sox before hitting Gordon Beckham with a pitch. No problem, he struck out Juan Pierre to end the third.
Chicago did not get its first hit until Adam Dunn singled with two outs in the fourth. The White Sox finally resorted to small ball to score in the sixth.
Juan Pierre dropped down a perfect bunt on the third base line. Wakefield fielded the ball but had no play. Pierre took second on a sacrifice by Omar Vizquel and third on a wild pitch. Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly scored him.
Chicago took the lead in the seventh after Carlos Quentin walked and Pierzynski launched a knuckleball deep into the stands in right center.
Saltalamacchia explained that Wakefield’s knuckleball was starting high and dropping down throughout the game. But Pierzynski “ran into one’’ at just the right time.
Floyd retired the first six batters, allowing only one ball out of the infield.
Saltalamacchia led off the third and worked the count full before pulling a cut fastball into the stands in right for his ninth home run.
Drew Sutton followed with a single, but Floyd retired the next nine Red Sox batters.
That streak ended in the sixth when Marco Scutaro singled and stole second. Jacoby Ellsbury then walked. Pedroia grounded into a force out at second. David Ortiz was next and walked on five pitches as Floyd worked around him. With the bases loaded, Kevin Youkilis struck out looking at a pitch that looked outside.
Youkilis is 1 for 7 with the bases loaded this season.