Freddy Garcia can't make 5 innings in 1st start for Chicago White Sox

Freddy Garcia, the 2005 World Series hero, squandered a 4-1 lead in his return to the rotation.

The White Sox feel good about their ability to rest slumping and injured position players because of the depth new acquisitions Alex Rios and Mark Kotsay can provide.

Their starting pitching depth, however, will be pushed to the limit unless general manager Ken Williams has another trick up his sleeve.

Freddy Garcia, one of the heroes of the Sox's 2005 World Series championship season, received an ovation in his return Tuesday night after battling shoulder problems for 2 1/2 seasons.

But Garcia failed to hold a three-run lead after three innings against the Royals, who beat the Sox 5-4.

The Sox didn't have a hit after the fifth inning and their last 11 batters were retired in order. Paul Konerko hit a fly to the wall in right in the ninth, but Royals closer Joakim Soria got A.J. Pierzynski on a groundout to end it.

Just before Garcia was pulled after 4 1/3 innings, Jake Peavy expressed doubt to reporters that he could pitch seven innings after allowing four runs in four innings in his second minor-league rehabilitation start for Triple-A Charlotte.

These developments occurred one day before Jose Contreras tries to reverse a trend against Royals ace Zack Greinke in Wednesday's series finale.

Contreras is 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA in his last six starts, but Guillen said the Sox have little choice but to start him in hopes he can regain the form that saw him post a 2.06 ERA in his previous six starts.

The Sox's rotation is aligned so Garcia and Contreras each would make two starts during their 11-game trip starting Monday in Boston.

Garcia, making his first major-league start since Sept. 29, 2008, had his fastball clocked in the high 80-m.p.h. range and relied on finesse to get through the first three innings.

But the Royals solved him the second and third times around the batting order. John Buck's two-run homer cut Garcia's lead to one in the fourth, and manager Ozzie Guillen pulled Garcia after Billy Butler hit a game-tying double and scored on Alberto Callaspo's single off left-hander Randy Williams.

The Sox drew five walks against Kansas City starter Gil Meche but hurt themselves on the base paths.

In the second, Callaspo dropped a pop-up. But Alexei Ramirez already had rounded first and eventually was caught in a rundown for the second out of the inning.

The Sox went on to load the bases, but Jermaine Dye grounded into a force play.

A promising rally in the fifth was wiped out when Willie Bloomquist caught Ramirez's shallow fly and threw home to nail Carlos Quentin easily for the first two outs of the inning. Quentin has a sore right knee.

Konerko snapped an 0-for-23 slump by hitting a single in the first and slugging a homer in the third. The homer equaled Konerko's 2008 total of 22.

Quentin followed with a two-run shot for his first home run since Aug. 4 against the Angels.

mgonzales@tribune.com

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