(Sports Network) - Losers of a season-high seven straight games, the Chicago White Sox could officially be eliminated from playoff contention tonight in the second portion of a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
The White Sox have only themselves to blame for being 10 1/2 games off the American League Wild Card lead and 11 games behind Minnesota for AL Central supremacy with 12 contests left. The losing ways continued for Chicago in last night's 3-0 loss to the A's in the series opener, as starter Gavin Floyd threw just seven pitches before leaving the game with a shoulder ailment. Tony Pena took over in relief and yielded six hits over six scoreless innings.
Scott Linebrink was dealt the loss for allowing all three runs in the seventh inning, while Manny Ramirez, Andruw Jones, Carlos Quentin and Brent Morel had the only hits for slumping Chicago. Ramirez is batting .269 with one home run and one RBI in 18 games with the Pale Hose.
"I'm disappointed by the losing streak because that losing streak comes at a big time," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Chicago will pin pitching duties on Mark Buehrle tonight and he needs 7 2/3 innings pitched to reach 200 innings for the 10th time in his career. The veteran lefty is winless in his last five starts (0-2) and suffered the loss in last Thursday's 8-5 setback to the Twins. He lasted five innings and allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks, falling to 12-11 in 30 starts.
Buehrle defeated the Athletics on July 23 this season out west with a complete-game effort, allowing only one run and four hits. He is 4-12 with a 3.75 ERA in 25 career games (21 starts) against Oakland.
The Athletics are still alive in the AL West and sit eight games behind the Texas Rangers for the division lead. Time is running out on Oakland, which needs a monumental collapse by the Rangers to even have a shot.
In Monday's series-opening win over Chicago, A's starter Gio Gonzalez recorded a no-decision and held the White Sox scoreless through six innings and struck out seven batters. Boof Bonser got the win with a perfect seventh inning, Michael Wuertz tossed the eighth and Craig Breslow recorded his third save in the ninth inning.
Chris Carter had his first major league hit after he was mired in an 0-for-33 slump and began the three-run seventh inning with a single. Kurt Suzuki added a two-run base hit in the frame to help the A's to their second straight win and third in four tries.
"Suzuki had a real nice night," Oakland manager Bob Geren said on the team's site. "He's been struggling a little bit the last month and he's had some flashes like he was coming out of it, but when he starts lining balls up the middle over the second baseman's head like he did today, then everything in his swing is working correctly."
Oakland, which has posted a major league-leading 3.07 ERA since the All-Star break after posting a 3.85 ERA before the layoff, hopes Trevor Cahill can get back to form when he toes the rubber tonight. Cahill had won two straight and four of five starts before losing at Kansas City last Thursday in a 6-3 setback. He allowed all six runs in five innings, struck out four and walked two batters.
Cahill fell to 16-7 in 27 starts and raised his earned run average slightly from 2.61 to 2.84. The right-hander has pitched well at home, going 10-2 in 13 starts, and is searching for his first career win against Chicago. Cahill lost to the White Sox on July 23 this season and is 0-1 in four starts in this set. He is trying to become the first 17-game winner for the A's since Mark Mulder did it back in 2004.
Oakland leads the 2010 series with Chicago by a 4-3 count.