CHICAGO -- Their once commanding lead is almost gone, and the Chicago White Sox are showing no signs of shaking a late-season collapse.
"We're just missing pitches. We've got to continue to battle and not put pressure on ourselves," Chicago right fielder Jermaine Dye said after Thursday night's crushing 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins in 11 innings knocked the White Sox's AL Central lead over Cleveland to 1½ games. The lead is the smallest for the White Sox since before they beat Detroit on May 1.
"We've got to play these games out and see where we're at," Dye said.
The White Sox have lost 10 of 14. The 15-game lead they had on Aug. 1 has all but evaporated. And with 10 games to go, they've got to find a way to get their offense going. On Thursday night, they squandered a bases-loaded threat in the ninth and a first-and-second situation in the 10th.
"We had our chances and I just didn't do my job," said Dye, who flied out with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth.
Lew Ford, who didn't start the game for the Twins, got a leadoff double in the 11th when his looping fly fell in front of diving center fielder Aaron Rowand. After Joe Mauer was intentionally walked with one out, LeCroy singled off Bobby Jenks (1-1) to break a 1-1 tie. Jones, who had homered earlier, then drove a two-run double to right-center.
"The season is not over yet. Those guys have to go out there and play the game like they were at the beginning of the season," said Santana, who has been tougher on the White Sox this season than any pitcher.
"That's when you prove how good you are -- at the end of the season," he said. "You have to finish strong and that's when good players and teams show up."
"We are out there giving everything," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team won the division the last three years but is out of contention.
"We know how important this game is to the Sox and everyone else and no one can accuse us of laying down."
After Santana and McCarthy dueled for eight innings, each allowing one run and four hits, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out in the ninth with two singles and a walk off Juan Rincon. But Rincon retired Dye and Juan Uribe on fly balls to end the threat.
"We had the bases loaded and we should have won the game right there," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The hitters got to be better in the stretch. It's not going to be easy."
In his third strong start since being recalled from the minors for a third time Aug. 30, McCarthy took a 1-0 lead with two outs in the seventh when Jones hit his 23rd homer to deep right.
Joe Crede, 2-for-23 in his career against Santana, hit his 20th homer with one out in the sixth as the White Sox took a 1-0 lead and finally broke through against Santana, who had dominated them all season.
"In my mind, it's Santana and he's as close to the best as it comes," McCarthy said. "It's disappointing to lose. ... It's tough to swallow."
Before the homer, Santana had thrown 21 1/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox. The left-hander was 4-0, had an 0.86 ERA and allowed just 20 hits in 31 1/3 innings in his four previous starts against Chicago this season.
Dye's double in the second was Chicago's first hit and Santana's mix of speed and movement kept the White Sox off balance until Crede connected. Crede had a game-winning, 10th-inning homer Tuesday night against Cleveland.
McCarthy, a tangle of arms and legs at 6-foot-7 and 190 pounds, matched Santana for five innings by allowing one hit, a leadoff single to Jason Tyner.
He didn't give up another until Terry Tiffee singled leading off the sixth and then brushed Luis Rivas with a pitch, giving the Twins their first serious threat of the game. But catcher Chris Widger pounced on Tyner's bunt and threw to third for a forceout. Then Crede fielded Jason Bartlett's grounder to third, stepped on the bag and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.
- The White Sox turned four double plays and CF Rowand made a couple of nice running catches.
- McCarthy's eight innings were a career high.
- Slumping Ford (6-for-32 entering the game) didn't start before pinch-hitting in the ninth.