ST. LOUIS -- Adam Dunn has a theory about pitchers.
Every starter makes six good ones and six bad ones during the course of a 162-game season.
"It's what you do with the other 20," Dunn said.
Using Dunn's mound math, Gavin Floyd has used up his allotment of non-quality performances. Unfortunately for the White Sox and Floyd, that personal streak of poor starts reached six straight during a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday night before 43,464 at Busch Stadium.
In just 4 2/3 innings against the Cardinals (33-31), Floyd allowed five runs on eight hits. Over these last six starts, Floyd has a 1-4 record with a 10.38 ERA and has just one start during that stretch with less than five runs allowed. He has yielded 49 hits, including 11 homers, over the 30 1/3 innings worked, while walking 10 and striking out 30. Two of Floyd's walks Thursday were issued to opposing pitcher Jake Westbrook.
Yet, a predominantly positive Floyd wasn't focused on these past struggles or his future spot in the rotation after the White Sox second straight loss. His thoughts centered on a quick change for his bad fortune.
"If you don't get the results, it's tough, it's frustrating," said Floyd, after walking four and striking out five. "It's one of those things where I'm going to keep on grinding, I'm going to try to win ballgames.
"There's no point in focusing on not getting results. I'm going to keep on battling and keep on fighting because I know this is going to turn around."
David Freese's run-scoring double in the second and two-run homer in the third gave the Cardinals an early 3-0 lead behind Westbrook, and Matt Adams' two-out, bases-loaded single in the fifth knocked Floyd from the game. Manager Robin Ventura came to the mound before Floyd faced Adams, and while he planned to have left-handed reliever Will Ohman pitch against left-handed-hitting Adron Chambers in the next at-bat, he decided to leave in his starter.
On a 3-2 offering, Adams drove in Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig with his line shot to center. Floyd had struck out Adams in each of his previous two trips to the plate.
"My game is trying to get guys to swing the bat," Floyd said. "I missed the pitch with Freese, got 3-2 with Adams and they capitalized on it. You have to learn from it. When you miss, maybe you have to miss off the plate."
"Maybe I was trying to do too much and I was pressing a lot," said Adams, of his first two at-bats before hitting a slider up over the plate to finish Floyd. "I told myself to try and relax and see the ball as good as I can. The first few pitches of that third at-bat I saw the ball good, and I got locked in."
Westbrook (5-6) looked locked in during the first 5 2/3 innings. He retired the first 12 White Sox hitters on just 40 pitches and had 12 outs via the ground ball.
Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham delivered back-to-back singles with two outs in the sixth, but Westbrook still seemed to be in control. That control evaporated when Dunn launched the next pitch like a laser to center field, producing his 22nd homer of the season to tie him with Texas' Josh Hamilton for the Major League lead and his 50th RBI.
Dunn has homered in four straight starts, getting just one pinch-hit appearance in Wednesday's loss due to a slightly sprained right ankle suffered Tuesday. He talked his way into Thursday's starting lineup after running at less than full strength Wednesday, according to Ventura, but felt fine once the action began.
"Once kind of the adrenaline takes over, that's the last thing you think about," Dunn said. "I'm hoping today is the last day it's going to even be an issue."
Even with Dunn's blast, that five-run deficit ended up being too deep of a hole for the White Sox (34-29) to climb free. They lost a third straight series for the first time since April 23 to May 6, when they dropped four in a row. Their American League Central lead stayed at 1 1/2 games over Cleveland but Detroit moved within four games of the lead.
Ventura understands the White Sox won't win every series but remains happy with the team's effort and preparation. He believes Floyd's stuff is there and the confidence soon will come, followed by better results.
Prior to Thursday's setback, Jake Peavy provided this ringing endorsement for his beleaguered rotation mate.
"I truly believe he has turned the corner," said Peavy of Floyd. "Guys don't want to face Gavin Floyd, I can tell you that, especially when he has got it going."
Floyd definitely has talent, some of the best pure stuff among the White Sox front five. But Peavy's talk of Floyd turning the corner looks to have been one start off. A 1.26 ERA over 28 2/3 innings in Floyd's previous four starts before this prolonged funk also gives the White Sox hope Floyd can match Peavy's lofty expectations.
"I'm just looking at it today, and do my job," said Floyd, who exited at 83 pitches. "It didn't happen today, but I have to put it behind me, keep on working on things and try to figure this out.
"Just keep on battling and grinding and it doesn't matter what happened in the past. And make pitches. One of these days it will turn around and I'll look back and laugh at it. Right now, it's tough and it's not fun. I just have to keep on going."