BOSTON—After unheralded left-handed rookie Kason Gabbard silenced the White Sox Tuesday night, a calm Ozzie Guillen sent a signal out to his club.
"Right now, it's time to wake up and make a run," Guillen said after Gabbard extended the Sox's offensive misery in a 1-0 loss to Boston at damp Fenway Park. "Don't wait for the last week or two weeks because it might be too late. It's time to start playing better. When you don't hit, it seems like you're flat. But in the meantime, we have to keep pushing and don't get off the pedal."
The Sox are in desperate need of more than just a kick-start. Gabbard and reliever Mike Timlin limited the Sox to four hits in handing them their fourth shutout loss of the season and their fifth loss in the last six games.
Javier Vazquez was the latest victim of the Sox's offensive malaise. He lost despite pitching a three-hit complete game and striking out 11.
The loss dropped the Sox 1½ games behind Minnesota in the American League wild-card race with 24 games left. They remained 51/2 behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
"It's my job and my coaching staff's job to make sure we believe in ourselves and we come out of it," Guillen said. "Don't look at Detroit. Don't look at Minnesota. Just look at yourselves. I don't think they're going to put their heads down and feel sorry for themselves. I'm their biggest supporter."
Right fielder Ryan Sweeney will start Wednesday night's series finale after getting two hits in his first major-league start. Sweeney had half of the Sox's hit total.
The White Sox have averaged less than one run in the first six innings of their last seven games, placing added pressure on a rotation that has been maligned most of the season.
The Sox have wasted exceptional efforts by Jon Garland and Vazquez (11-9), who retired the final 13 batters and held Boston sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez hitless in six at-bats with four strikeouts.
The Red Sox scored their run in the fourth when Trot Nixon hit a one-out double and scored on Coco Crisp's two-out single.
"That's what's frustrating," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who is 1-for-15 on this trip. "We just have to find a way to win the game, get going the right way and head home."
The Sox have been handcuffed in the last three games by Kansas City left-hander Mark Redman (5.26 ERA), Boston's emergency starter Julian Tavarez and Gabbard, who recently was promoted from Triple A. Gabbard had a 6.35 ERA in four major-league appearances and wasn't listed among Boston's top 30 prospects by Baseball America.
"These are games I'm sure people expect us to win, and I expect us to win just about every game," Pierzynski said. "I'm just as frustrated as the next guy. I hit the ball hard, and guys turn them into double plays and diving catches."
The Sox loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Paul Konerko hit into his 16th double play with runners in scoring position this season. He hit into his 21st double play overall in the seventh.
The Sox also had runners at first and third in the sixth. Joe Crede, making his first start in the third spot in place of Jermaine Dye, hit a line drive. But third baseman Mike Lowell atoned for a third-inning error by catching the liner and throwing to first to double up Tadahito Iguchi and kill the rally.
"That kid (Gabbard) was good enough, but you expect to have better at-bats against those guys," Guillen said. "We're not swinging the bats good. They got us at the right time."