One day after virtually every part of the Sox's machine showed signs of working smoothly, not much of anything worked Sunday. The Detroit Tigers jumped starter Todd Ritchie for six runs in 3 1/3 innings and eased to a 9-2 victory that ended the Sox's four-game winning streak.
Seven of the nine Detroit starters had at least one hit in the first three innings, and the Tigers scored at least once in each of the first four innings, driving Ritchie (3-6) from the mound in the fourth on an RBI double by Robert Fick.
The Sox sent just 15 men to the plate over the final five innings and rarely threatened Detroit starter Adam Bernero, who earned his first major-league victory.
"It all starts with the starting pitching," said Sox manager Jerry Manuel. "We didn't hit well either, but Todd seemed a little flat today."
Not that anyone would necessarily blame Ritchie for being a little off. Fick, who ended a 1-for-18 slump by going 4-for-5, lined a one-out pitch back at Ritchie in the first. Ritchie ducked but was unable to get his glove up in time, and the ball struck him above his right ear with such force that it caromed into short left field, allowing Fick to reach second with a double.
Ritchie, who was checked out by team medical personnel, was able to continue after throwing several practice pitches, although he lost his hearing for a while.
"Other than that, in the heat of the battle you want to keep going," Ritchie said. "I guess that's punishment for throwing a ball in a bad spot."
It was not the end of the Tigers' assault on Ritchie. Bobby Higginson followed with a line drive just over Ritchie's head and into center, driving in Fick to put the Tigers up 1-0.
In the second the Tigers added all the runs they would need. Chris Truby lined another shot back through the box that Ritchie was able to duck. Matt Walbeck looped a single to left-center and Ramon Santiago added a third straight Detroit single, driving in Truby. Walbeck and Santiago moved up on a groundout to first and scored when Fick slashed a single to right, building the Detroit margin to 4-0.
The Sox, who managed hits in just two of the first seven innings and only four for the game, bunched three together in the fourth for their only real offense of the game. Ray Durham led off with a single, moved to third on a single to right by Magglio Ordonez and scored on Paul Konerko's single. Ordonez scored on Jose Valentin's sacrifice fly.
"It's tough to sweep any team in the big leagues," said Konerko. "Two out of three is good."