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Closer is the Sox's newest worry

CHICAGO -- The White Sox have sprung yet another leak as key showdown series against the Minnesota Twins looms on the horizon.

Things have now gone from bad to worse on the White Sox’s closer front with J.J. Putz becoming the most recent to fumble away a late lead.

In for the ailing, and previously struggling, Bobby Jenks, Putz was one out away from the save and a White Sox victory before he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Alex Avila as the Detroit Tigers rallied for a 3-2 victory.

What’s that old saying about water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink? On paper, manager Ozzie Guillen seems to have closers, closers everywhere and now what must he think?

Jenks has blown a couple of big late leads in the second half, doing so in spectacular fashion. Then came his back injury that could lead to a stint on the disabled list. Putz had been dominating during the middle part of the season and now he is starting to look vulnerable.

Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos, in that order, are the next in line to inherit the job of closing out victories.

Putz seemed to be the obvious answer, especially since had a franchise record 27-appearance scoreless streak that ended July 29. Since then, though, he not only gave up Saturday’s go-ahead home run to the light hitting Avila, he also gave up a walk-off home run to the Orioles’ Brian Roberts on Monday. For Avila, it was his fifth home run of the season. For Roberts it was his first.

Not surprisingly, Putz wasn’t in a chatty mood afterward.

“Yep. That's the way it goes sometimes,” he said.

What’s the key to moving past this?

“Wake up tomorrow and be ready to go,” he offered.

Guillen didn’t seem too worried about things, walking through the clubhouse holding an infant in a diaper. At least the baby was crying.

“I think those guys are throwing the ball very well,” Guillen said. “When you’re in that situation, you’re one pitch away to close and one pitch away to lose. I thought the last guy, to be honest with you, that would hit a home run against him was Avila, especially the opposite way. I think this guy just put a nice swing on the ball.

“We just have to be ready for tomorrow. I’m not worried about that situation because I think those guys out there have confidence in themselves. It was just one game.”

It left Edwin Jackson without anything to show for an 11-strikeout performance in his third start with the White Sox. He now has a 1.35 ERA in three White Sox starts, but only has one victory. Daniel Hudson, who was traded to Arizona for Jackson, is 3-0 after three starts with a 1.59 ERA.

“He’s been awesome,” said Gordon Beckham, who flew out to deep right field to end the game. “Anybody that asks what we were doing with that trade, or the naysayers, go ahead and look at what he’s done. He’s been great and it’s a shame we couldn’t give him another win.”

The White Sox did manage 10 hits Saturday, but alas, they were all singles. Without Juan Pierre driving in a run on a ground ball, stealing a base and scoring a seventh-inning run, the Tigers might not have needed the heroics.

The White Sox now trail the Twins in the American League Central standings by two games, the first time they have been that far back since July 3. The White Sox and Twins meet for three games in Minneapolis starting Tuesday.

By the numbers

36: Place on the all-time stolen base list for Juan Pierre, after he swiped second in the seventh inning. Pierre now has 504 career steals, tying him with Paul Molitor.

Quote

“We can't sit here and worry about what they're doing. We have to play our game and just try to win every game we can and at the end of the season, see where we end up. If we play our game according to how they play, we're not going to be focused on what we're trying to do.” –Jackson, when asked about the Twins gaining another game in the standings.

Look ahead

White Sox right-hander Freddy Garcia (10-5, 4.90 ERA) has been struggling of late with a 1-2 record and an 8.27 ERA over his last four starts. Since beating the Angels on July 7, Garcia has won just once, on July 29 against the Mariners. He pitched 6 2/3 strong innings at Detroit on Aug. 5, but ended up with a no-decision when Bobby Jenks blew a late lead. He is 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA over his last four starts against the Tigers and 9-1 against them with a 3.52 ERA over his last 12 outings.

Garcia will be opposed by Tigers right-hander Armando Galarraga (3-5, 4.48), who has four losses over his last seven starts and hasn’t won a big-league game since June 24 against the Mets. He has beaten the White Sox just once in seven career appearances (five starts).