ANAHEIM -- Robin Ventura never has been one for delivering long soliloquies as White Sox manager, either pregame or postgame.
As Exhibit A, check out Ventura's summation following his team's 6-2 loss to the Angels before 39,326 Friday night at Angel Stadium.
"We just got our rear ends kicked," said Ventura, after his American League Central-leading squad dropped its third straight on this nine-game road trip interrupted by last Monday's home makeup victory over the second-place Tigers.
Ventura went on to say more, but his initial comment pretty much nailed this series opener. After Alejandro De Aza's leadoff homer on a 3-2 pitch from Angels starter Ervin Santana (9-12), fortunes went south quickly for the South Siders.
They did not lose a full game because the Tigers-Twins contest at Comerica Park was postponed due to inclement weather, forcing a doubleheader Sunday. The advantage for the White Sox (81-69) sits at 1 1/2 games with 12 games remaining.
Seven of those 12 will be played at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Just because we lost those games, it doesn't mean that it's over," said White Sox right fielder Alex Rios, who represented the team's frustrating night by spiking his bat after grounding out to Santana in the seventh. "We're still a couple games ahead and we're going to go play at home. We play pretty good at home. I don't think we're worried. It's just a matter of playing good baseball."
"I certainly will sit here and take the blame, but we all gotta dig deep and try to find a way to beat a good team who is playing for a lot as well," said Friday starter Jake Peavy, who slipped to 5-11 over his last 20 starts despite posting a 3.58 ERA during that stretch. "Go back home and find a way to get this thing done. We gotta win some ballgames and find a way on every aspect."
Peavy surpassed the 200-inning and the 30-start marks for the first time since his National League Triple Crown pitching effort with the Padres in 2007. Returning to the site where he made his May 11, 2011, comeback from 2010 season-ending surgery to reattach his lat muscle, the right-hander yielded five runs on eight hits over five innings.
Kendrys Morales started the uprising with a game-tying homer leading off the second. The Angels (82-69) added two runs apiece in the third and fourth in moving to 3 1/2 games behind the A's in the AL Wild Card race.
Albert Pujols singled home two runs in the third, although De Aza's boot on the blooper contributed to Mike Trout scoring from second. Torii Hunter's two-out single, coming after Peavy pitched around Trout to load the bases, brought home the two in the fourth.
"That's the attitude we're going to bring every day: must win," Hunter said. "We need to win. That's a no-brainer. We have to win."
"Balls that found holes, and they are going to hit some balls hard, you know that," said Peavy, who lasted just 81 pitches. "They hit the ball where you want them to hit them on the ground, but if they get through, it's going to make for a long night with the speed that offense has. We couldn't get a ball hit at somebody when we needed to."
Brian Omogrosso replaced Peavy in the sixth because Ventura just didn't see the White Sox getting anything going against Santana. Aside from three hits off reliever Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, the visiting offense was dormant.
Santana shut down the White Sox over seven innings, matching a career high with 11 strikeouts, while allowing just two hits as he worked on eight days' rest. He was wildly effective in the first inning but quickly settled into a great mound groove.
"Great game from Ervin, especially since he was having a little trouble in the first inning finding his way, finding his command," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"Tonight was probably the best I've ever seen him," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko. "Just kind of teasing the strike zone. You tip your hat to him because he threw the ball very well."
This setback was punctuated by Trout's 28th homer and Garrett Richards' seven-pitch ninth. The White Sox now get a chance to break their losing streak against Dan Haren and then Jered Weaver, while the Tigers play three with the Twins over the next two days.
Home comforts await the White Sox starting Monday. And while the White Sox know the precarious state of the division lead even with 12 games left, they refuse to panic after a trio of subpar performances.
"You have to get perspective on it and know that we can't get to next week or next weekend until we get through tomorrow," Konerko said. "And we can't get through the second inning until we get through the first. You just really have to break it down as easy as you can and as small as you can.
"We're in a good spot after 150 games. We're a game-and-a-half up. Most teams would want to be in that spot. We have to know that and let that give us energy, not let something like last night or tonight bring us down. We're in a good spot and how we process a night like tonight and have a short memory tomorrow is going to be the difference."