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Sox drop to 26 games below .500 for first time since 1980 with 6-1 loss

CLEVELAND OH - AUGUST 1: Alejandro De Az#30 Chicago White Sox reacts after striking out end top third inning against

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Alejandro De Aza #30 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after striking out to end the top of the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Aug. 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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Updated: August 1, 2013 4:07PM

CLEVELAND – The deeper the White Sox tumble into abysmal territory – they fell 26 games below .500 for the first time since September 1980 with their seventh straight loss Thursday, a 6-1 dud to the Cleveland Indians – the more manager Robin Ventura’s managerial skills will be questioned.

“It happens,’’ Ventura said. “That’s just part of being in this job and I think it’s not easy. I’m the one in charge and you just have to take it.’’

Third in American League Manager of the Year voting as a rookie in 2012, Ventura will not receive a vote in 2014. Were there such a thing as “worst manager of the year,” he’d probably be in the mix because of the won-lost record, not for his performance, general manager Rick Hahn says.

Criticism “doesn’t change my focus on what we are trying to do or win games or teach or anything like that,’’ Ventura said. “It’s just part of having the job.’’

Hahn was noticeably annoyed Thursday morning when he went on the “McNeil and Spiegel Show” on 670-AM. When it suggested that it’s time to point fingers at Ventura for the team’s lack of sharpness, focus and cohesiveness, Hahn went on the defensive for his manager.

“You’re free to point your fingers wherever you feel it’s appropriate,” he said.

The Sox (40-66), who were swept by the Indians in the four-game series to extend their losing streak to seven games, are on pace for 101 losses. They’re moving there in ugly fashion, so the question posed to Hahn was not unfair. The latest example of lackluster play was a botched, six-throw rundown play Wednesday night that left Ventura looking at the dugout floor and chewing extra hard on sunflower seeds. Third baseman Conor Gillaspie’s throwing error Thursday was the team’s 76th, which is 30 more than their opponents have made.

Sox baserunning has also been embarrassing at times, like the defense a dramatic reversal from last season. Hahn said it might have been unfair to give Ventura too much credit last year so it’s equally unfair to blame him for what’s going on now.

“At the end of the day, for me, and as we look at our staff, we look at the amount of effort, communication and what they’re doing behind the scenes,’’ Hahn said. “It isn’t always available to the media, to the fans, which is unfortunate because they don’t see the anger, they don’t see the high energy, they don’t see the confrontations and communication with the players. And I think to Robin and his staff’s credit, that stays behind closed doors, where the players and the staff would prefer that to take place.”

Hahn said he’d make changes if he saw a lack of effort.

“At this time, we don’t feel changes are merited in the near future,’’ he said.

Said Ventura: “We are continuing to work at it. You are trying to be positive and that’s probably the hardest part right now.’’

The Sox were never really in Thursday’s game, even with ace Chris Sale on the mound. The surging Indians, who have won eight straight, have won 11 of 13 from the Sox with a pair of four-game sweeps for the first time in franchise history. The last time the Indians swept a team twice in four-game series was in 1960 against the Kansas City Athletics.

“It’s annoying, frustrating, whatever you want to call it,’’ second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “Yeah, and then some great players get taken away from you in the last week [Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain in trades] but if you don’t play well that’s what happens.’’

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