CHICAGO -- For the second straight start, Philip Humber did something never previously seen in his career.
On Saturday at Safeco Field against the Mariners, Humber threw the 21st perfect game in Major League history and his first complete game -- let alone shutout or even no-hitter. But on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field, the results weren't quite as flawless.
Humber's string of retiring 29 consecutive batters ended when he walked Red Sox leadoff hitter Mike Aviles on a 3-2 pitch, and the right-hander's fortunes went downhill from there during a 10-3 loss. A crowd of 20,266 skipped the Bulls' final regular-season contest and braved the 39-degree game-time temperature to celebrate Humber's amazing achievement and also pay homage to captain Paul Konerko and his new membership in the 400-homer club.
What they got instead was nine runs and three home runs allowed by Humber (1-1) over five innings, which stand as career highs moving in the wrong history-making direction.
"This game will humble you," said Humber, who's still waiting to become a first-time parent with his expectant wife, Kristan. "It will make you feel good one day and make you feel bad the next.
"You've got to take every game as its own game, and Saturday was one game, and tonight was one game. I'm going to keep working and battling and hopefully next time will be better."
The Red Sox (8-10) scored two in the first and then put up a crooked number of five in the third, highlighted by Kevin Youkilis' opposite-field grand slam to right. Those five runs came home on just three hits, as Humber allowed home runs to Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but he also walked Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. After Humber worked a perfect fourth, Saltalamacchia took him deep again in the fifth.
Unlike his perfect game, Humber's slider disappeared in the series opener. His day ended with eight hits, three walks and 115 pitches.
A three-ball count didn't appear until the ninth inning against the Mariners, but Humber had seven of those Thursday. With one out and Ortiz at bat in the fifth inning, Humber threw his 96th pitch. He needed just 96 pitches to perfectly dispose of Seattle.
Boston's lineup has been on a major upswing during its four-game winning streak, something Humber readily acknowledged. But the right-hander put just as much of Thursday's failure on his own shoulders.
"Any lineup in the big leagues is a quality lineup, but I didn't pitch well tonight," Humber said. "They did a good job of hitting bad pitches. Definitely not my best day, for sure.
"I got a lot of pitches up and over the plate. To a team like that, they make you pay for it. I fell behind in the count quite a bit. Overall, it was just a bad job of executing, more than anything. We paid for it."
Felix Doubront (1-0) earned the victory, allowing three runs on five hits over six innings. Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski picked up run-scoring hits, while Dayan Viciedo homered to open the fourth. Two hits from from the struggling Viciedo, who was 1-for-24 coming into the contest, and the continuously solid Konerko stood as the few bright spots on this chilly night.
"[Doubront] was pretty good, but we didn't have a great night," said second baseman Gordon Beckham, who escaped unscathed from a Junichi Tazawa hit-by-pitch just below the midsection in the eighth. "You got to give him a little credit, but I felt like we were more off than he was on. I don't think he had his best stuff. I think he can be better. We just didn't have it tonight."
"We know we were going to have to battle from the beginning, and that's something we had a meeting about," said Saltalamacchia of Boston's offense. "We were going to go up and not give at-bats away and just have that good approach."
Three straight losses have followed four straight victories for the White Sox, who stay tied atop the American League Central courtesy of the Indians' loss to the Royals and the Mariners completing a three-game sweep of the Tigers at Comerica Park. Aside from a few innings in the Sunday night contest played in Texas during the season's first weekend, Chicago (10-9) has been competitive in pretty much every game this season.
So maybe they were due for a rough showing such as Thursday's, dropping the South Siders to 1-5 in their last six home games. Just like his team overall, Humber knew the rest of this 2012 season wasn't going to be perfect.
"Sometimes you get lucky. You throw a pitch over the middle of the plate and they hit it at somebody," Humber said. "Tonight it seemed like they squared up just about every mistake I made, and they didn't chase anything out of the zone."
"You always sit there and look at a team when they're going to wake up and come alive," said manager Robin Ventura of the surging Red Sox. "You can look at their team and the quality of players and you know they're capable of something like this. They've taken their lumps early, but these are easier to shake off [for the White Sox] than the last couple of days."