Freddy Garcia might as well have had a pin in his hand Sunday night, single-handedly letting the helium-high feelings from the day before escape like air from a burst balloon.
Instead he had a baseball when he faced the Indians, putting the White Sox so far behind that even a furious ninth-inning rally left them short of gas in a 10-8 defeat that made Saturday's extra-inning thriller only a distant memory.
Garcia, who won seven straight decisions earlier in the season, is now winless in his last four starts. He hasn't made it through seven innings in any of them, yielding 21 runs in 231/3 innings for an 8.10 earned-run average. His season record is a respectable 7-4, but his ERA climbed to 5.13.
The Indians, who had a clubhouse squabble the day before between pitchers Bob Wickman and Paul Byrd, took out their anger on Garcia and reliever Sean Tracey with four homers. Tracey created a minor stir in the eighth inning when he hit Travis Hafner with a pitch.
It was the fifth Cleveland batter plunked in the series, including three in the first game, but each time the batter went peacefully toward first base. So did Rob Mackowiak, who took a retaliatory pitch to his body a half-inning after Hafner.
Garcia, who had not walked a batter in three of his previous starts, got in trouble early with walks.
In the second inning, he walked leadoff hitter Ben Broussard, who scored on Ronnie Belliard's double. In the third, he walked Jason Michaels, who scored along with Hafner to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
But the fifth inning was worst of all. Garcia walked Hafner leading off the inning, with Victor Martinez following with his third homer of the series. Then Broussard walked and Belliard followed with a homer.
The Sox tried to keep Garcia close with two runs in the bottom of the third, one of them on Alex Cintron's second homer, the other on Jim Thome's single that broke an 0-for-11 slump. Included in the inning was a single by Brian Anderson, who broke an 0-for-10 skid.
Cintron, who had the game-winning homer Tuesday against Detroit, was starting at shortstop in place of slumping Juan Uribe.
"The way Uribe is swinging the bat, I kind of worry about him," Guillen said. "He's been looking at his average and putting a lot of pressure on himself. I wanted to give him a day to relax and think about the game."
Plus, Cintron had been swinging a hot bat, going 9-for-25 in his previous 10 games.
"It helps getting more playing time," he said. "I get to see a lot of pitches and I've been getting my confidence back."
Cintron doubled in a too-little, too-late six-run ninth for the Sox, an inning highlighted by Anderson's homer, his first since May 10. It was a thrill for those in the crowd of 34,410 who stuck around for the rally. But Wickman escaped, saving the victory for Jake Westbrook, who is 3-0 against the Sox this year after going 0-4 last year.
The Sox fell to 11/2 games behind Central-leading Detroit. They also missed a chance to put third-place Cleveland 10 games behind them. Last season the Indians gained 91/2 games on the Sox during the second half. However, the Sox did win two of three in this series.
"It's the same situation as last year, where we're trying to put as much distance as we can between us and them," Paul Konerko said. "It's a little different this year with Detroit in there
but we just want to keep taking those head-to-head games against them off the schedule. That way they can't make them up later on."