BOSTON -- A homestand the Red Sox were hoping to use as a springboard has instead turned into the exact opposite.
The latest was an 8-3 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday night that left the defending World Series champions 10 1/2 games back in the American League East.
To get to this season-high deficit in the standings, Boston (39-51) has lost seven of the first eight on this 10-game homestand, including the last four.
Not only has the latest skid pushed the Red Sox further back from their competitors, but it may force general manager Ben Cherington into being a seller heading into the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Well, when we started the homestand, we felt that this 10-game stretch was going to be pivotal to some internal decisions that are to be made," said manager John Farrell. "We fully recognize where we are. That doesn't mean we're not committed to this year and we're always going to remain optimistic -- that's the competitor in all of us. And yet at the same time, this homestand has not been what we anticipated coming off the road trip."
Considering the aspirations with which the Red Sox entered the season, it's hard to fathom things have gone like this over the first 90 games.
"We come in every day to work, I promise you that," said catcher David Ross. "We come in here to do the best we can and prepare for that day and try to win that day. There's not one guy that's not completely into each game we play and playing hard. Guys are running hard down the line, guys are putting their work in early with extra hitting. There were probably eight guys here today. We're putting our work in trying to get better. We need to get better."
The offense, a weak spot all season, came to life for one inning on Tuesday, but put up zeros in the other eight frames.
The defense and the bullpen also sputtered in the latest defeat.
"I come here every day thinking it's going to turn around," said first baseman Mike Napoli. "There's a lot of guys in this clubhouse that do that. We still come here and work hard and play the game the right way, and hopefully it turns around."
Symbolizing the current state of affairs for the Red Sox was David Ortiz hitting two rockets to center, both of them going for 410-foot outs.
Brandon Workman gave the Red Sox seven innings, allowing eight hits and five runs. He walked two and struck out five. Ultimately, however, his start came down to one pitch -- the one Conor Gillaspie hooked around Pesky's Pole in right with two outs in the sixth to snap a 3-3 tie.
"It was a cutter I left over the plate. He put a good swing on it," said Workman. "I just didn't get the pitch where it needed to be."
Once again, the Red Sox played most of the night from behind.
The White Sox loaded the bases with nobody out against Workman in the second. The Red Sox were hoping for a double play when Dayan Viciedo hit a grounder to first. But Napoli, normally a sure fielder, bobbled the ball on the transfer on his attempted throw to the plate and everybody was safe. Alejandro De Aza followed by hitting into a double play, with a run scoring on the play to make it 2-0.
"To me, he's looking like he's trying to make the transfer," said Farrell. "Might have taken his eye off it to get the lead runner at home plate with the potential for a 3-2-3 double play. Unfortunately misses the grip on the transfer."
Though their struggles at the plate have been well-documented, the Boston bats came alive in the bottom of the fifth.
Dustin Pedroia cranked an RBI double into the corner in left to put the Red Sox on the board. Napoli laced an RBI double to left-center. After Jonny Gomes loaded the bases with a single, Xander Bogaerts punched an RBI single to left to tie the game.
However, Workman couldn't keep the momentum on Boston's side. Jose Abreu led off the sixth with a single. Gillaspie curled his two-run shot down the line in right, and the White Sox were back in front at 5-3.
The White Sox added three more in the ninth on De Aza's triple, Gordon Beckham's double and Paul Konerko's double for a five-run cushion.
"We're just not very consistent," said Ross. "We haven't scored. When we do score runs, we haven't pitched the way we wanted to. And when we pitch the way we need to, we haven't scored runs. So that's not a good formula. It's just one of those things. We need to keep working, grinding it out and it's easy to say -- everybody's talking about trades and moves. But there's a lot of baseball left to be played. We got almost a whole half left. We've got to start playing more consistent, better baseball, period."