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Despite being closer than the Cubs, White Sox need to tighten it up

CHICAGO IL- MAY 30:  First baseman Paul Konerko #14 Chicago White Sox mishandles ground ball hit by David DeJesus

CHICAGO, IL- MAY 30: First baseman Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox mishandles a ground ball hit by David DeJesus #9 of the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field on May 30, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. DeJesus was safe at first on Konerko's error. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

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Updated: May 31, 2013 8:56PM

The Cubs aren’t even pretending to be as good as the White Sox, and they won all three completed games from the South Siders this week.


The Sox, who lead the all-time series 49-44, had won eight of the last 11 and 15 of 21 going in. They came into this series having won nine of 12, overcoming a poor start offensively and defensively to reach the .500 mark for the first time since April 10.

And the rebuilding Cubs knocked them back down a notch.

Or three.

That had to hurt.

In the land of the Sox, which is proudly marked by a 2005 World Series flag, the notion of the lowly Cubs — who haven’t played in a World Series since 1945 and haven’t won one in 105 years — showing them up for the good part of a week in May isn’t sitting well.

Thank goodness the Blackhawks are winning to soften this bad mood rising. But the fact remains that the Sox are closer to being a postseason team than the Cubs.

Unlike the Cubs, the Sox don’t have three teams ahead of them in the standings that are out of reach. The Sox were five games behind the American League Central-leading Tigers after Thursday’s loss with 111 games to be played.

If the Sox take advantage of a soft schedule in June and are in striking distance around the trading deadline, history shows chairman Jerry Reinsdorf would be willing to spend to give his team a chance down the stretch. General manager Rick Hahn, working with former GM Ken Williams, has orchestrated turnarounds in the past.

And these Sox are familiar with playing meaningful games in August and September, going through it with a young pitching staff as recently as last season.

All of that said, beginning this weekend in Oakland and the three days that follow in Seattle, the Sox must put an end to repeated displays of bad defense and poor hitting, which crept up again against the crosstown rival Cubs.

“You gotta give them credit,’’ said Sox pitcher Jake Peavy, who lasted four innings in Thursday’s 8-3 loss. “At the same time, you got to look at yourself. We have to bring it. I think that we just have to step up with a little more intensity, and it starts with me. I didn’t do a very good job of that today. Nor did much of anybody.’’

Could another early Robin Ventura workout in Oakland be in store for the Sox?

Thursday’s display of unsightly baseball started with the Cubs’ first batter. Paul Konerko was charged with a harmless error on a sideways hop to start things off. There was worse bad baseball that didn’t show up in the box score:

A wind-blown pop-up that fell somewhere between Peavy and third baseman Conor Gillaspie, left fielder Dayan Viciedo’s poor read that turned into extra bases for the second time in two days and Alejandro De Aza getting thrown out easily by Alfonso Soriano trying to stretch a single into a double. Down five runs in the seventh with the wind blowing out, the Sox would have had two on with one out.

Something has to change.

“We haven’t even come close to clicking on all cylinders for a full week,’’ Konerko said. “How many games behind we are is irrelevant. . . . We know that if we don’t shape up, it’s not going to stay there. These other teams are going to play better and do it. We just have to get better.’’

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