09/02/2003 11:15 PM ET
Colon's gem spoiled by Boston
Right-hander allows just two hits, but takes loss
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Bartolo Colon didn't deserve to lose Tuesday game's against Boston before 23,943 at U.S. Cellular Field. Not when he gave up a mere two hits in his sixth complete game of the season, even if they both were home runs.
Neither did the White Sox, who managed four hits, but also put runners on base via one walk and four hit batsmen.
But in Boston's 2-1 victory, long balls by Trot Nixon and Gabe Kapler were all the Red Sox needed to snap the White Sox's two-game winning streak. Minnesota's 12-6 victory over Anaheim and the Royals' 8-7 loss in Texas left the White Sox (73-65) one game ahead of the Twins in the American League Central and two ahead of Kansas City.
With nothing but first-tier competition facing them during the month of September, aside from three this weekend against Cleveland, the White Sox can expect quite a few games to be played out as Tuesday's was.
"Nobody wants a 2-1 game every night, not the way we are swinging the bats," said White Sox designated hitter Frank Thomas, who finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. "When you get opportunities at this time of year, you can shoot yourself in the foot or make it happen.
"Tonight, we shot ourselves in the foot."
The troubles for the White Sox began in the first inning against John Burkett, who improved to 10-7 and won 10 games in a season for the 10th time in his career. Actually, the White Sox had trouble finishing off the veteran right-hander.
Roberto Alomar doubled to right leading off the first, one of four leadoff hitters the White Sox put on base against Boston pitching. One out later, Burkett hit Thomas in the left shoulder and walked Magglio Ordonez to load the bases.
Carl Everett dropped a high popup in between second baseman Todd Walker and Nixon in right, scoring at least one run with the apparent hit. But Walker threw out Thomas, waiting to see if the ball would be caught, at third. Paul Konerko flew out to right, limiting the damage to one run.
"It will be tough when you face teams competing for playoff spots and what have you, because nothing will be given to you," said White Sox manager Jerry Manuel of the missed scoring chances Tuesday. "You have to take advantage of every opportunity.
"You can't give the game away mentally or physically, but we didn't really give it away. We just didn't get it done."
Carlos Lee led off the third with a double, but was stranded there when Thomas flew out to right, Ordonez popped out to shortstop and Everett struck out swinging. The White Sox put two more on base against Burkett in the sixth when Everett was hit by a pitch with two outs and Konerko singled to left. But Jose Valentin popped out to third on a 2-1 pitch from Burkett, ending the threat.
Burkett threw 116 pitches over six innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. His slow and slower repertoire continuously kept the White Sox off balance.
"He flipped that 65-mph curve up there, in between the 85- or 86-mph fastball," Thomas said of Burkett, who is 2-0 this season against the White Sox and Colon. "He's an old pro and he knows throwing different speeds every pitch can cause havoc."
"Burkett had a different pattern every time through the order," Konerko added. "He started with fastballs away, then mixed in some cutters and went with the big overhand curves the third time through."
The best chance to tie the game for the White Sox came in the seventh when Joe Crede led off with a double to left-center against reliever Brandon Lyon. He moved to third on Armando Rios' grounder to second and stayed there when Roberto Alomar was hit by a pitch.
Lee then hit the first pitch from reliever Scott Williamson sharply to second, but Walker and Nomar Garciaparra quickly turned an inning-ending double play. Byung-Hyun Kim picked up his 12th save, working a scoreless ninth, despite Konerko barely missing a game-tying home run leading off the inning.
Kim waved the ball foul from the mound. Konerko knew it wasn't staying fair, carrying his bat down the line with him after he made contact.
"I could tell a couple of strides down it was hooking," Konerko said.
Colon allowed Nixon's 420-foot home run, his 26th, in the second on a fastball that missed its location, and Kapler's game-winner with one out in the sixth came on an offspeed pitch. Otherwise, the hard-throwing right-hander walked one and struck out five, throwing 74 of his 117 pitches for strikes.
The loss evened Colon's record at 12-12, but the effort gave Manuel a positive sign of things to come.
"He was outstanding," Manuel said. "I don't think he made mistakes, but he gave up two balls that were hit out of the ballpark. Other than that, he was outstanding. I expect that from him the rest of the way."
Colon's teammates have the same high expectations. They also don't expect many low-scoring games such as Tuesday's, not with a .296 average and 84 home runs since the All-Star break.
"We know the difference from when we give stuff away and good pitching," Konerko said. "We had a couple of shots to open the game up, but sometimes you just have to tip your hat. It was unfortunate we couldn't do anything for Bart because he threw a great game."
"There were opportunities, but we didn't get it done," Thomas added. "It happens."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.