The White Sox possess the major leagues' best record, are tied for the American League lead in fielding and have made a habit of clutch hitting.
But they fell short in all three areas Thursday night as Boston made the Sox pay dearly in a 6-5 loss before a crowd of 36,784 at U.S. Cellular Field.
The White Sox committed three errors, none as costly as third baseman Joe Crede's dropped foul pop with one out in the ninth inning.
On the next pitch, Manny Ramirez launched a 415-foot home run over the left-field fence off reliever Luis Vizcaino to hand the White Sox their third consecutive home loss.
"I kind of had that feeling in the back of my head," Crede said after his 49-game errorless streak was snapped. "I said, `Oh man, I hope he doesn't hit a home run.' And he did."
There was plenty of blame to go around as the White Sox (62-32) lost their third consecutive home game and saw their lead in the AL Central dip to 10 games over Minnesota.
They also were expected to make a decision Friday on whether designated hitter Frank Thomas, who has been nagged by soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle, would go on the 15-day disabled list.
First baseman-outfielder Ross Gload flew in from Triple-A Charlotte and would be activated for Friday night's game if Thomas is placed on the DL.
"I don't want to take a chance with Frank," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Frank is a big part of our team and we got a long way to go."
But the White Sox had other concerns Thursday. Left-handed ace Mark Buehrle couldn't hold a 4-1 lead and was miffed that several bloopers fell for hits. Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi was charged with two errors on one play that allowed the Red Sox to tie the game in the seventh and set up Kevin Millar's go-ahead sacrifice fly off reliever Cliff Politte.
The White Sox also stranded runners in scoring position in the second, fifth and sixth innings.
"We have to keep playing the way we've been playing all season and not worry about who we're playing, or what Minnesota is doing," Buehrle said. "Just keep playing our game. We haven't done that. A couple errors, we haven't been hitting or pitching. We haven't been playing like the White Sox, like we did at the beginning of the season."
Buehrle and the White Sox wasted home runs in the first four innings by Carl Everett, Paul Konerko and Aaron Rowand, whose solo shot in the fourth off Boston starter Matt Clement was his first since hitting a game-winning blow off San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman on June 12.
Crede came through with a two-out RBI double off converted closer Curt Schilling in the eighth that tied the game, and the White Sox looked to have a decent shot at winning the game in the ninth with the top of the order coming up.
But then Crede dropped Ramirez's foul pop, which twisted back onto the field at the last moment.
"I got over to the railing and saw some fans look like they were ready to catch it," Crede said. "It got about 20 feet from the ground, and it veered left on me and took me by surprise.
"It's still a play I have to make."
Iguchi also took responsibility for his first error in 36 games, but it didn't diminish the disappointment.
Buehrle pitched deep enough to extend his mark of pitching at least six innings to 48 consecutive starts, tying Jack McDowell (1992-93) for the club's longest recent mark.
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