CHICAGO -- Mike Pelfrey called it "atrocious," "ridiculous" and "a wasted day," among other things. Ron Gardenhire said it was "going nowhere."
Any way you spin it, Pelfrey's third straight inefficient start with spotty command cost the Twins as they fell to the White Sox, 5-4, Saturday. It was Minnesota's first loss to its division rivals since May 15, a span of five games.
"This game's all about consistency," Pelfrey said. "I'm fed up with going out there and throwing 100 pitches in four innings or five innings, whatever it is. ... There's no other way to put it. I've been atrocious. Terrible."
The righty didn't quite leave his team up a creek without a paddle -- in fact, it led as late as the sixth inning, as Oswaldo Arcia and Justin Morneau each hit their third homers in as many days in a four-run third -- but Pelfrey didn't do himself, or the Twins, any favors.
For the third straight outing, he logged more than 93 pitches (it was 98 Saturday) without pitching more than five frames. He exited with no outs and two on in the sixth. He hasn't won since July 6, and Saturday, he walked five while surrendering just four hits.
"Too many pitches early," Gardenhire said. "Forty-seven pitches after two innings, and it was going nowhere really quick. It's not like he's not trying -- we all know he's trying -- but he'll still go strike one, then next thing you know, it's 3-2. The pace goes nowhere."
Gardenhire noted that Pelfrey turned in an excellent fifth inning, while the Twins held a 4-3 lead. He allowed a run in the first on a Gordon Beckham walk that led to a run on a sacrifice fly. In the second, Jordan Danks led off with a homer, and then a run scored on a fielding error by Chris Colabello.
"I probably catch that ball 99 times out of 100," Colabello said of the routine fly. "I should catch it 100 times out of 100. I put my arm out, it went off the end of my glove, and I missed it."
In the fifth, Pelfrey needed only 11 pitches to retire the side in order.
A leadoff single from Avisail Garcia and a walk to Danks in the sixth -- after which Pelfrey was pulled for Anthony Swarzak -- set the table for a White Sox sacrifice bunt and another sac fly to tie the game. Two batters later, Conor Gillaspie drove in Danks with a single to center for the go-ahead run.
"We had plenty of chances after that," Gardenhire said. "I don't know how many strikeouts again, and I don't know how many times we left people out there in scoring position, but I know it was an awful lot. We had plenty of chances."
Once again this weekend, the Twins offense was reliant on home runs. Saturday was the first time the power show wasn't enough. Morneau has driven in eight of the Twins' 14 runs this weekend with three blasts, while Arcia became the first Twins rookie to homer in three consecutive games since Jason Kubel did it June 13-15, 2006.
On the flip side, the Twins went 1-for-9 with men in scoring position, stranded 10 runners and struck out 11 times. For the weekend, they're 2-for-27 with runners in scoring position, have left 29 on base and have struck out 36 times.
"All the relievers came in and battled and got the ball to me, and we got out of there with a win," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "A win is a win. It doesn't matter how you do it. Hopefully, it gets a little spark in us and starts a little winning streak."
The offensive woes are one thing. Pelfrey's struggles are another. And he knows where to turn.
"It's the same as it was the first two months," he said, referencing his 3-6 start to the season, during which he registered a 6.66 ERA. "It's frustrating. But I've gotta look myself in the mirror. There's no one else to blame but myself. I've gotta turn this thing around."