NEW YORK -- A thoroughly forgettable 11-game, three-city road trip for the White Sox ended in dismal fashion on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
This 12-3 loss to CC Sabathia and the Yankees before 40,081 was so bad that White Sox starter Edwin Jackson carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and was still losing by a 2-0 margin. It was so bad that heavy rain falling in the afternoon couldn't even wash away this finale of a four-game set, with the downpour stopping around 4 p.m. ET and the game starting on time.
It was so bad that during a 32-minute bottom of the fifth, during which the Yankees scored six times, Jackson and reliever Tony Pena faced nine hitters and didn't retire any of them.
You kind of get the picture, at this point.
"We couldn't do anything right," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, summing up Thursday's getaway rout.
Jackson (2-3) turned in his fourth straight treacherous start after opening the season with two wins and striking out 13 Rays in Chicago's home opener on April 7. The right-hander's troubles began with a free pass issued to Brett Gardner one out into the third, and before he was done, Jackson had walked four straight and forced in a run. Robinson Cano's sacrifice fly raised the Yankees' lead to 2-0.
Gardner's solo home run opened the fifth and broke up Jackson's no-hit bid. The lined shot to right was followed by Eduardo Nunez's double over left fielder Brent Lillibridge's head, Curtis Granderson's triple to right and Nick Swisher's single to right. The Yankees (14-8) went from hitless to hitting for the cycle in a matter of four batters.
"Obviously, it's more fun to be on that side of it than the other side," Gardner said.
Before being replaced by Pena, who left in the fifth with discomfort in his right elbow that could be tendinitis, Jackson allowed six runs on four hits, walking five and striking out two. Jackson has given up 20 earned runs on 34 hits over his last 21 1/3 innings, striking out 12 and walking 12. He blames those struggles on a case of mind over execution.
"I think it's a matter of thinking and not letting your instincts take over and pounding the strike zone and trying to pitch instead of just going out and throwing to the glove," said Jackson, who threw just 49 of his 91 pitches for strikes. "It's definitely frustrating when you come out and feel good, and all of a sudden, you can't find the strike zone."
"A pitcher won't get away with much if you can't hit the strike zone when you face a lineup like this," Guillen said. "Those guys are professional hitters. They're not going to chase anything."
As for the White Sox offense against Sabathia? Their entire 3-8 showing on this road trip can be summed up by the first inning.
Lillibridge reached when his hard-hit grounder to Nunez was bobbled by the shortstop for an error. Alexei Ramirez followed with a double to left, putting runners on second and third with nobody out and Carlos Quentin coming to the plate.
Quentin hit a grounder to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who fired a strike to catcher Russell Martin and nailed Lillibridge at the plate. Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn each flied out, leaving the White Sox (10-16) scoreless. And against an ace hurler like Sabathia, if you don't take advantage of early chances, you often don't get to him at all.
"He has turned into a great pitcher," said Konerko of Sabathia, who also gave up two hits but no runs in the second inning. "He used to throw real hard and have some dominant stuff. He still throws hard enough, but he's really very well rounded. He has more of a repertoire now, where he can do some things he didn't used to be able to do.
"Give a guy a lead like that, and he's gone. Guys like that win games. See you later."
Three unearned runs did come across for the White Sox in the seventh inning, with Ramirez and Quentin picking up RBIs, answered by three from the Yankees in the bottom of the frame.
The end of this trip started promisingly enough for the White Sox here, with Phil Humber taking a no-hitter into the seventh on Monday and Lillibridge's spectacular saves in right on Tuesday. Sergio Santos emerging as the team's potential closer didn't hurt matters, either.
But where the offense is concerned, some rather startling numbers exist that are hard to ignore.
Twelve of the last 13 games have featured the White Sox going scoreless in the first three innings. Thirteen of the last 14 games have featured an output of three runs or fewer. During this road trip, Gordon Beckham, Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski didn't score a run.
Now, the White Sox sit a season-worst seven games out of first place behind Cleveland in the American League Central.
Saying it's early doesn't exactly sound as soothing as it did 11 days ago, although the White Sox did go against three tough teams on the road. But they're sticking with that particular mantra at the 26-game mark of a 162-game ledger.
"Hopefully, we turn things around at home," said Guillen, who called the road trip "terrible."
"We finished this the way we started -- very bad," Guillen added.
"Just going off last year's team, we sure don't want to wait two months to get going, but things can turn on a dime in this game," Konerko said. "We learned it can turn in a bad way quickly, but we have to realize it can turn the other way just as quick."