CHICAGO -- Shortly after the Trade Deadline came and went without general manager Ken Williams making another move, the White Sox dropped their second straight game in a 5-3 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday, falling four games off the pace in the American League Central.
The White Sox also lost All-Star Paul Konerko when he left the game prior to the start of the fifth inning with a bruised left calf and, though X-rays were negative, manager Ozzie Guillen said Konerko would most likely not be in the lineup on Monday against the Yankees.
The White Sox slugger was hit by an Andrew Miller pitch in the fourth inning, which loaded the bases with one out and the White Sox leading, 3-2. Though he stayed in the game until the end of the inning, Konerko never had to move off first base as Carlos Quentin struck out and Adam Dunn popped out to end the inning, setting a trend for the rest of the afternoon.
Despite having at least one baserunner in each of the first eight innings, the White Sox managed just one run each in the second, third and fourth innings, while stranding 12 runners on the day.
"I don't think we've had a game where we can go out there and relax a little bit, coaching staff or pitching," Guillen said. "Every game, it seems like we're up by one, down by two, up by two. We keep waiting and waiting and waiting to see if we can't have that space. We [need to] get a big base hit, a bases-loaded double or something like that, just to have some space to make mistakes. Unfortunately, that did not happen."
Even with their inability to drive in early runners and build on their lead, the White Sox were still clinging to a one-run advantage until Dustin Pedroia drove in a pair on a decisive two-run single against reliever Jesse Crain in the seventh. The two runs erased another solid outing for starter Mark Buehrle, who allowed just two runs on five hits over six innings in the no-decision.
Buehrle gave up a two-run homer to catcher Jason Varitek to put Boston ahead, 2-0, in the second, but bounced back and held the Red Sox scoreless until turning the game over to the bullpen to start the seventh. With Sunday's performance, Buehrle has held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in 16 straight starts, while pitching at least six innings in all but one of those outings.
"Giving up those two runs to get down and you say you've gotta go out and throw up zeros," Buehrle said about his response to the early homer. "2-0 we have a chance to battle back from, but if it's more than that, we're going to be in trouble."
Buehrle turned out to be exactly right, as the White Sox were able to battle back and tie the game one inning later on a pair of unlikely hits from Dunn and Alex Rios.
Brent Morel pulled the White Sox to within one with an RBI double in the third, and then one inning later Dunn recorded just his third hit in 72 at-bats against left-handed pitchers this season to put runners on the corners with two outs in the fourth. Rios followed with an RBI single to tie the game on his first hit of the season with two outs and a runner on third base (1-for-21).
After Alexei Ramirez put the White Sox ahead with an RBI single in the fourth, Red Sox starter Andrew Miller limited the damage by pitching his way out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam. Miller, who left the game with his team trailing, scattered 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings and kept the Red Sox in the game in part because of his season-high eight strikeouts.
"Today, it was getting guys in scoring position and getting them in early, but we weren't able to do it later in the game," said Brent Lillibridge, who moved from left field to make his first appearance at first base after Konerko left the game. "We left a lot of guys on base, so it's just trying to figure out the little ways to score that run every other inning, two innings, just keep adding to the lead. 3-2 isn't going to win that game, the Red Sox are too good. So we have to add."
"I threw the breaking ball in the zone a lot today," Miller said, "so I was able to get swings and misses on those fastballs up in the zone."
With Adrian Gonzalez tacking on an RBI double in the top of the ninth and Jonathan Papelbon striking out the side in order in the bottom half, the Red Sox took their first series against the White Sox since Aug. 24-27, 2009, and their first at U.S. Cellular since Aug. 24-26, 2007.
With the back-to-back losses to close out the series, the White Sox fell back to two games below .500. They wrap up a 10-game homestand with a four-game set against the Yankees starting on Monday.
"I would have never guessed we would have been in this spot that we're at right now," Buehrle said. "So I don't know, I can't see the future. I thought going into Spring Training we had a good team and a good chance, but obviously, we're not in a good spot right now."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.