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White Sox blow 3-0 lead in 7-4 loss to Rangers

Alexei Ramirez argues with umpire Jeff Nelsafter being called out strikes earning quick toss. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

Alexei Ramirez argues with umpire Jeff Nelson after being called out on strikes, earning a quick toss. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:25AM

The Sox have a way of putting a bad spin on a two-run inning. They had one against Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison in the first inning on Friday night, but could have — should have — scored more.

Carlos Quentin drove in Juan Pierre with a double and Alexei Ramirez singled in Paul Konerko, then advanced to second on a throw home by center fielder Josh Hamilton. The Sox were sitting pretty, but Alex Rios tapped out to Harrison, and Tyler Flowers struck out to leave runners on second and third.

So it goes for the So-So Sox. Even when they win, they lose or draw.

They had another chance for a big inning in the fifth, which started with a walk to Gordon Beckham and an error on shortstop Elvis Andrus. Brent Lillibridge hit a game-tying sacrifice fly and then Konerko walked. But Quentin flied out to Hamilton at the wall and Ramirez popped out to catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Quentin threw his helmet in the dugout after his at-bat, and hitting coach Greg Walker took off on a brisk walk down the tunnel before the ball landed in Torrealba’s mitt.

“It’s a fight every night,’’ Sox ­general manager Ken Williams said Friday.

This season has been a constant battle for the Sox, who dropped two games below .500 and five games behind AL Central leading Detroit with their 7-4 loss to the Texas Rangers before an Elvis Night crowd of 28,308 at U.S. Celullar Field. Whether they’re playing a first-place club like the Rangers — who checked into their Chicago hotel at 6:45 a.m. Friday after playing in Anaheim the night before — or the last-place Kansas City Royals, the Sox have to scrap and claw for every run they get.

“No matter who you’re playing, it’s a fight,’’ said Williams, who put together a team with a $126 million payroll that figured to be comfortably above the .500 mark by late August. “Am I surprised that we are where we are? Yes. I anticipated us being quite a bit better than we are. If we’re playing at our level we’re capable of, to a man, yeah, we have a better record and we’re not having this discussion. The fact that are we still sitting here as one of the teams that has a chance to go to the playoffs, I guess you can feel good about that. I’m going choose to feel good about that, being .500 but still having a chance to go to the playoffs.

“If you get in, particularly the way we pitch and play defense, you’ve got a chance to win.’’

Getting in looks like a bigger challenge with each defeat. Starter Jake Peavy was spotted a 3-0 lead, then allowed two home runs to Mitch Moreland and a 429-foot bomb to Hamilton.

These are not your Go-Go Sox of yesteryear. These are your So-So Sox. After Texas assumed control by taking a 7-4 lead in the sixth, the Rangers bullpen held the Sox hitless the rest of the way.

“Just frustrating,’’ Peavy said, “especially when the boys score four runs early like that.

“I just couldn’t anybody out with two outs. I had good stuff, just didn’t make good pitches. It’s as disappointing as disappointing gets.’’

The Sox frustration came to a head when Ramirez was called out on strikes, then quickly ejected by plate umpire Jeff Nelson for arguing.

Former Cardinal Josh Kinney, brought up from AAA Charlotte with Philip Humber placed on the disabled list, struck out six in three scoreless innings of relief of Peavy (5-6), whose ERA climbed to 5.06.

“You make a mistake against that lineup, you are going to pay the price,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It seems like [Peavy] didn’t have too much in the tank for his last two innings.’’

Guillen said he didn’t consider pulling Peavy sooner because he wanted to keep his bullpen fresh.

“My bullpen is thin,’’ he said.

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