CHICAGO -- The Rangers needed their offensive muscle on Thursday night, only to have it missing in action. Nelson Cruz is on the disabled list, Vladimir Guerrero's left eye is still half-swollen, David Murphy's hitting streak is over, Ian Kinsler hit .147 on the current road trip and Josh Hamilton has six RBIs in his past 18 games. Just when it appears the Rangers are ready to break out offensively, their No. 3-5 hitters go 0-for-12 on Thursday night and they lose to the White Sox, 4-3, at U.S. Cellular Field.
The South Siders were the ones with the muscle in this one. They hit three home runs off starter Colby Lewis, and the Rangers missed out on a chance to sweep the White Sox in a three-game series in Chicago for the first time since 1986. They are in first place in the American League West by percentage points as they prepare to face the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays on Friday at Rangers Ballpark. Lewis had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. But Alex Rios belted a hanging changeup for a solo home run in the sixth and Carlos Quentin hit a two-run shot in the seventh to give the White Sox the lead. Former Rangers outfielder Andruw Jones hit Chicago's first long ball of the night in the second inning. "I'm not changing anything," Lewis said afterward. "The only pitch I would want back would be the changeup to Rios. I got ambushed twice. I threw a good fastball down to Jones on an 0-0 count, and not a lot of guys would be swinging at that. Quentin, I had been pounding him all day long, then threw a slider down and away, and he hits it out." White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen complimented Lewis, saying, "He threw the ball well. He had good stuff. His ball moved a lot." But it still didn't keep Lewis from going to 1-4 despite a 3.52 ERA in his past seven starts. "I have to pitch as well as the team is doing," Lewis said. "That's just the way it is. I'm used to playing close games in Japan. That's the way it goes. Sometimes you score eight, sometimes you score two. One day, you'll give up six and they'll score nine." Texas scored nine in winning both Tuesday and Wednesday. It didn't score nine on Thursday but missed a chance to deliver a major blow to Chicago starter Freddy Garcia in the fifth. "In games like this, you always look back at opportunities to get runs in without base hits," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You hate to miss those opportunities." Washington was referring to the fifth, when the Rangers snapped a 1-1 tie but missed out on more. Singles by Craig Gentry and Elvis Andrus and a double by Michael Young gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead and left runners on second and third with one out. But Garcia struck out Kinsler and Hamilton flied to left-center to end the inning. Kinsler is now hitting .213 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 15 games in the No. 3 hole in the lineup. He was batting .321 -- but with no home runs and three RBIs -- in the No. 5 spot before being moved up. "That's just the game and part of it," Kinsler said. "You've got to go through it. You're always going to go through rough patches in a season. You've just got to keep going." Washington isn't interested in moving Kinsler back to the fifth spot while moving Hamilton up again. "You can't be swapping them back and forth," Washington said. "We all know what Kins can do. We're going to stay with him and help him get out of the funk he is in." Hamilton is hitting .354 in the No. 5 spot and .273 in the No. 3 spot. But on Thursday, he was in the cleanup spot as Guerrero remained sidelined with his swollen eye. Hamilton was 6-for-10 in the first two games of the series before going 0-for-4 on Thursday night. "I thought he did a good job the last two days of staying on the baseball and making them get it up," Washington said. "He wasn't making them get the ball up tonight. He was swinging at balls." The Rangers had eight hits Thursday. Young had two of them. The bottom four hitters in the lineup were 5-for-14. The middle of the order went missing and the Rangers left for home having lost nine of their past 12 games.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.