Blame me, says Guillen

Special to the Tribune

It seems everyone wants to take the blame for what's wrong with the White Sox, and there's certainly enough to go around after their 10th loss in the last 12 games.

Friday night's 3-2 loss to Cleveland was much like the others in the last two weeks—not enough offense to make up for pitching just bad enough to lose.

Yes, the Sox have fallen hard since they were in first place July 24. They are six games behind the Twins and are now tied with Cleveland for second place, although if it is any consolation, they are percentage points ahead (.509433-.509090).

That's about the only time they've been ahead of anything lately.

Perhaps you wonder how things are going lately for the White Sox offense?

Well, the final play of Friday's game is a perfect example. With two outs and speedster Willie Harris on second base, Joe Borchard chopped an infield single behind second base. Harris never quit running, following the waving arm of third-base coach Joey Cora in an attempt to tie the game.

He was out easily at the plate, as second baseman Ronnie Belliard threw home instead to first, much to the dismay of those who were left from the 23,811 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.

"That's the way White Sox baseball is going right now," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Guillen is one of those stepping up to take blame for the hard times, even though the collapse started with the disablement of Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez.

"I'll take the blame, because I think we should play better," Guillen said. "Have we got enough talent? Yes. Do we play up to the talent? No. I'll let the players play the game and I'll take all the heat."

Not if general manager Ken Williams has his say.

"I take my full responsibility if this thing doesn't get turned around," he said. "If it doesn't get turned around, we have to look at different things to be successful."

The players should have to share the blame as well.

"[The players] should feel ashamed," Guillen said.

Friday's wasn't one of those games that will provide any footage for the winter highlight film.

The Sox struck out nine times, were charged with a passed ball on a strikeout and even had an error from newcomer Roberto Alomar. They managed only six hits, but two of them were infield singles.

And then there was that last play of the game. "I would take the same chance [as Cora] as a third-base coach," Guillen said.

The loser was Mark Buehrle (10-5), who lasted 62/3 innings and yielded three runs on nine hits, a walk and a hit batter. The third inning was the only one in which he retired the Indians in order.

Buehrle, who had runners all over the bases but was helped by two double plays, yielded all of his runs in the second inning.

Casey Blake and Travis Hafner started that inning with singles, and after a Lou Merloni strikeout, Coco Crisp smacked a homer over the left-field wall. The damage was limited to only those three runs, although Buerhle gave up another pair of singles.

Meanwhile, the Sox had trouble with left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who limited them to two runs in seven innings and is now 5-0 in Chicago. Only one of the runs—a Juan Uribe homer in the seventh—was earned.

The first Sox run came on a sacrifice fly by Alomar in the sixth. Catcher Jamie Burke scored the run after a single, a sacrifice by Aaron Rowand and passed ball got him to third base.

After it was all over, Guillen met briefly with his bedraggled troops.

"It's hard to have fun when you're losing games," he said. "We're not playing the way we should be playing. I told them two things: If you are going to lose, lose like champions, and play as hard as you can and have fun.

"[Right now], we aren't having fun and we're not winning games."

That's a fact, no matter who's to blame.

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