CLEVELAND -- Ozzie Guillen didn't take much stock in Monday night's loss because Cliff Lee was "unhittable."

The White Sox manager had a much different reaction after Tuesday night's setback -- a 9-3 loss to the Indians before 20,980 fans at Progressive Field.

Never mind that the White Sox were without Ken Griffey Jr. (sore lower back) for the second consecutive night, without Carlos Quentin (sore right forearm) for just the eighth time this season and without Joe Crede, who went down after the fifth inning with tightness in the lower back that ended his 2007 season and has already taken a five-week chunk out of 2008.

No, that wasn't enough for Guillen to overlook the on-field effort from his healthy players on this night, which resulted in few meaningful scoring opportunities and another four-inning letdown from John Danks.

"It seemed like we were tired, it seemed like we were dead," Guillen said. "I didn't see the energy, I didn't see the [grinding]. There's a lot of things we're missing."

Though the White Sox lost in lopsided fashion, it didn't hurt their place in the American League Central standings, as the Twins fell to the Blue Jays, 7-5. Both Chicago and Minnesota remained tied atop the division at 77-61, but after an effort like Tuesday's, it was tough for Guillen to be optimistic about his team's chances.

"It's going to be real tough to compete," he said. "We were missing a couple guys on the field, but I think the guys on the field can compete and play better."

After giving Danks an extra day's rest heading into Tuesday's start, Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper were hoping the 23-year-old lefty would do better than his four-inning, four-run effort at Baltimore last week.

Aside from a couple more strikeouts, one less walk and one extra hit, Danks did the exact same thing.

The Indians got to Danks in the second inning when Jhonny Peralta drew a leadoff walk before Victor Martinez hit his first homer of the year -- a two-run shot that just crept over the left-field home run porch to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.

Franklin Gutierrez's two-out, two-run double put the Tribe up, 4-0, in the fourth inning, which would serve as Danks' last.

Danks, who has already thrown 25 2/3 more innings than he did all last year, maintained that he hasn't hit a wall and his arm is far from dead.

"I'm not tired at all," Danks said. "I'm throwing as hard as I was and my stuff is just as good. It's just a matter of me throwing strikes. I didn't throw strikes tonight and I got in trouble for it."

Guillen, though, was a tad concerned.

"I worry about him because that's the first time he's thrown that many innings," Guillen said. "My policy ... is if you feel anything, you feel tired, you feel hurt, I'd rather them let me know than for me to figure out."

Crede abided by that policy when he asked to be taken out after the fifth inning. The 30-year-old third baseman said his back tightened up on him after he made a diving stop on a grounder in the third inning. It continued to throb before the pain was too much to take.

"It was just one of those times where I had to take a step back before it gets even worse," Crede said.

His status is day-to-day, but Guillen had his doubts.

"I don't expect Joe to play for the rest of the year," Guillen said. "I can not count on him for the rest of the year."

The White Sox finally got to Indians starter Fausto Carmona in the sixth inning, when they chased the 24-year-old sinkerballer. Jermaine Dye drew a one-out walk, then came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 4-1. Nick Swisher's sacrifice fly plated Jim Thome before Juan Uribe, pinch-hitting for Crede, capped the scoring with a double off the left-center all to draw the White Sox within a run, 4-3.

But that would be all the runs Chicago could amass, as the Tribe's bullpen slammed the door on the punchless White Sox offense, which has mustered just two extra-base hits over its last two games.

Meanwhile, Chicago's bullpen had no such success. D.J. Carrasco, Octavio Dotel, Boone Logan and Mike MacDougal combined to give up five runs in the seventh inning, putting the game well out of reach.

"Something's missing," Guillen said, "and that we have to find out right away, because if we continue to play like that, it's not going to be easy."