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Chicago White Sox 5, Tampa Bay Rays 1

CHICAGO — Manager Joe Maddon isn't going to scream or rant or start throwing things around the Rays clubhouse, because that's not his way. "If I thought it would matter or make a difference, I would," Maddon said, "but if that's all it ever took, it would be way too easy."

And there isn't much maneuvering he can do with the lineup. Not when there's B.J. Upton and Sam Fuld hitting, and 11 other guys, well, politely, not for a combined .145 team average that is, by far, the worst in the majors.

So as their season-starting losing streak extended to six games with Thursday's 5-1 loss to the White Sox, all the Rays figure they can do is go back out again today and keep trying — harder, easier, differently, you pick — and keep talking about keeping things together before they fall apart.

Left-hander David Price discussed how "terrible" their 0-6 start was and how "miserable" they felt about it.

Centerfielder Upton admitted they were getting a "little frustrated" and, in essence, "it can't get much worse than it is right now."

Even Maddon, who is perpetually positive, acknowledged how "abnormally weird" and "absurd" to imagine them hitting so poorly.

But it was the words spoken by Johnny Damon as he led a brief players-only postgame meeting that they hope meant the most.

"We just talked amongst ourselves to make sure we stay together," Damon said. "This is not what we envisioned where we were going to be at this point. We can either sulk about it or embrace it and say, 'We have to get better.'

"We have to forget about all this that happened — 0-6, it stinks, we hate to be in this position, but it's not the end of the world. We know we have to go out and start winning games. And we feel like once we do and once we get that and try not to put so much pressure on ourselves, we can start to roll. And we keep saying hopefully sooner than later.

"We're in this together. There's not going to be any separation of why aren't the hitters hitting. No, we're together in this. We're 0-6 together. And now it's time for us to win some games together."

Of course, tonight won't be soon enough, as they became just the 46th team since 1900 to start a season 0-6 (following the Red Sox, who became the 45th earlier Thursday) and have looked so bad in doing so.

Their eight runs total through the six games are the fifth fewest by a team in more than 60 years. They're the first team since the 1992 Tigers not to hold a lead in one inning this far into a season. They've had one inning when they scored more than one run (a two-run homer by Upton) and four innings when they've gotten more than one hit (including the eighth and ninth Thursday).

Oh, and that .145 team average? It's percentage points less than what National League pitchers are hitting.

"You could go into some slumps or dives or whatever and not hit the ball well," Maddon said, "but one run all the time is kind of hard to cope with."

Making it tougher Thursday was the weather, a jolting 39 degrees on a damp and dreary Chicago afternoon. And making that even tougher was batting against former teammate Edwin Jackson, who was sharper Thursday (13 strikeouts, four hits over eight innings) than when they last faced him, which happened to be a June 2010 no-hitter.

"For sure," Upton said.

The Rays have been shocked, of course, at how bad their offense has been. Even more, stunned as to how it has happened, with so many hitters so cold and none seemingly getting any breaks, such as Damon's eighth-inning drive to right — which even Jackson thought was a tying two-run homer — dying at the warning track.

"That's how it's been going for us," Damon said. "I don't think we've got a bloop hit or a broken-bat hit. There's been nothing like that. … You just never see that."

The only solace, and granted it isn't much, for the Rays is they are not the only AL East contender at 0-6.

"We're definitely neck and neck with the Red Sox right now," Maddon said.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

White Sox 5

Rays 1

Chicago White Sox 5, Tampa Bay Rays 1 04/07/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 7:35am]
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