Sox have no answers for Chen

Zach Stewart was solid in his home debut, but he got little help from his offense. David Banks/Getty Images

CHICAGO - -A second consecutive solid outing for the Chicago White Sox's newest starter, Zach Stewart, wasn’t enough to overcome the South Siders’ offense's continued impotence against Bruce Chen.

Chen threw six innings of one-hit shutout baseball as the Sox fell 5-1 to the Kansas City Royals.

Chen improved to 3-0 against the White Sox on the season, allowing only two runs in his 20 innings of work against them. Manager Ozzie Guillen had seen this story unfold before.

“Well, same old movie, you know what I mean?” Guillen said. “Those kinds of things happen, we always have one hitter, one pitcher, who's always dominated the team. I think we did a better job today than we did last time. Last time he got 80 pitches in seven innings, this time he got 90-100 pitches in fifth. But still I don't worry about that, worry about how many guys cross the plate.”

The White Sox did have a couple opportunities, as Chen was a bit wild early, walking three and hitting two batters in the first three innings. The White Sox loaded the bases in both the first and third innings, but Alex Rios flew out meekly to right to end both innings without the team scoring any runs.

“Different ball game [if Rios comes through], we were one hit away to get something going,” Guillen said. “Alex was the hitter, he can't get it done. For some reason, this guy's been swinging the bat pretty good on the road, very good. Even the outs he was making was pretty hard. He comes home and he can't get it going, I don't know what's the reason.”

To make matters worse for the White Sox, A.J. Pierzynski, one of their hottest hitters at the moment, had to leave the game after getting hit in the left wrist by a pitch. Though x-rays came back negative, Guillen didn’t expect him to play on Saturday. Pierzynski, on the other hand, was giving it a "we’ll see" approach.

“It’s sore, I mean. Obviously to get hit there is not good,” Pierzynski said. “It could have been worse. Luckily there’re no fractures or anything in there. It’s sore and we will see how it feels tomorrow.”

After going 10-for-17 with a home run and two doubles in the previous four games, Pierzynski singled in his first at-bat on Friday before departing in the fourth.

The lone bright spot for the Sox was Stewart’s solid performance, as he allowed only two earned runs in his six 1/3 innings pitched. Stewart quickly settled down after allowing the first four men of the game to reach base. He got out of the inning with minimal damage, as the Royals managed to score only one in the first.

“I was mostly just mad at myself for the leadoff walk,” Stewart said. “It’s something, as a pitcher, you just can’t do, especially to start off the game. That was the only thing I was really frustrated about. Other than that, the bunt and the little bloop into left field, that’s just stuff that happens. I felt like I did well in getting out of it I guess.”

Despite Stewart’s strong performance, Guillen was unsure if he would remain in the rotation. Though he had nothing but praise for the youngster, Guillen couldn’t commit to him without taking a look at the upcoming schedule and accounting for off days.

The White Sox fell to 24-33 at home on the season and have now lost seven games in a row at U.S. Cellular Field. During those seven games they’ve been outscored by a combined 51-17 by their opponents. Nobody seems to have any answers as to why this team has struggled so mightily at home.

“I wish I can have anything to say about why we play so poorly here,” Guillen said. “It can be a lot of things, maybe too much pressure, maybe want to do too much. The reason is this ball club on the road is more relaxed than it is at home, there's no doubt about that. I think on the road, before the game or after the game, if we lose or win, the team is more relaxed. What's the reason? Like I say, the reason is you have to be Chicago tough.”

With another loss, not only do the White Sox fail to climb back to .500, but they lose a game in the standings, as they now sit five games behind the first place Detroit Tigers.