RICK GANO,AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — For 117 days this season, the Chicago White Sox were in first place. Now, they’re in danger of missing the postseason.
The White Sox left 10 more runners on base Thursday night and lost 3-2 to Tampa Bay when Evan Longoria hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth to send the Rays to their eighth consecutive victory.
Chicago twice loaded the bases with no outs against Tampa Bay starter James Shields and managed just two runs on a hit batsman and double-play grounder. And with the go-ahead run on in the eighth, the White Sox failed to get down a bunt and then were doubled off by sloppy baserunning.
Now they’ve lost eight of nine and to fall two games behind AL Central-leading Detroit, which beat Kansas City earlier Thursday. The White Sox are hitting .123 with runners in scoring position over their last 10 games.
“There ain’t nobody to blame. I think everybody in here will take accountability for the way we’ve played,” Chicago starter Jake Peavy said.
“We had it right there in front of us a lot tonight and throughout the last week and a half, just hadn’t been able to capitalize on either side of the ball. We’ve tried to pitch well enough to give us a chance and just hadn’t been able to do that quite enough and obviously offensively it’s been frustrating here for the last little bit.”
The White Sox had their chances.
A.J. Pierzynski led off the eighth with a single. Pinch-hitter Dewayne Wise then struck out after failing out to get down a bunt and pinch-runner Jordan Danks was ruled out on a double play on Alexei Ramirez’s fly ball when he failed to retouch second base on his way back to first.
Chicago has stranded 68 runners over the last 10 games.
“We didn’t do the little things. Tonight we had an opportunity to get a guy in scoring position and didn’t do it,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
“Over the course of the last week or so, we’re not doing small things to win games. We have bases loaded, we only get one. Over the course of time that just builds up and it’s difficult on your pitching staff to do that over and over again.”
White Sox slugger Paul Konerko hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the fifth, tying it at 2.
Carlos Pena had a sacrifice fly for the Rays in the fourth, but the White Sox tied it in the bottom half when Shields walked two and gave up a single to Alex Rios to load the bases with no outs. One out later, Shields hit Dayan Viciedo with a pitch to force in a run, then retired the next two batters to avert the big inning.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself,” Konerko said. “Sometimes the game is cruel. Sometimes what you get out of it is not what you put into it, but you know that going in. We know that, been playing the game a long time. It’s tough. Nothing else to say.”
Luke Scott also had a solo homer for Tampa Bay, which pulled within two games of Oakland in the race for the second AL wild card.
The Rays and White Sox have six games to go, including three more against each other.
Longoria’s 14th homer came on the eve of the anniversary of his dramatic shot that beat the Yankees on the final day last season and gave the Rays the AL wild card. Now they’re hoping for a repeat performance.
“It’s one game. I hate to bring down the mood, but it doesn’t put us ahead,” Longoria said.
“It brings us a little bit closer, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s a good moment for us, good moment for me, but bottom line is it’s just one game.”
Joel Peralta (2-6) pitched an inning for the win and Fernando Rodney finished for his club-record 46th save in 48 chances. After giving up a two-out single to Kevin Youkilis, Rodney struck out Adam Dunn on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Brett Myers (3-4) gave up Longoria’s homer while pitching 1 2-3 innings. The right-hander has allowed a run in each of his last two outings after a run of six consecutive scoreless appearances.
NOTES: The White Sox still have not named a starter for Sunday’s series finale to oppose Rays ace David Price. Jeremy Hellickson (9-10) goes for Tampa Bay on Friday against Gavin Floyd (10-11) and Saturday it’s Matt Moore (10-11) vs. Chicago’s Chris Sale (17- 7).
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