CHICAGO -- This time, the Chicago White Sox couldn't avoid the knockout.
They won four straight elimination games only to bow out with a 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of their division series on Monday night. Just like that, what looked like a promising October for the city ended with a whimper.
No parades. Just disappointment.
It was a rough day for Gavin Floyd, whose breakout season ended with a fourth-inning exit, and a difficult postseason for veteran sluggers Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome. Both were 0-for-4 and Griffey ended the game with his third strikeout.
"Those are two guys I'd like to win it for," teammate Mark Buehrle said.
Thome played in two World Series with Cleveland. Griffey hasn't been there and is running out of time. He took some comfort in the fact that he had a shot he never envisioned before the Cincinnati Reds traded him to Chicago at the July 31 deadline.
"No frustration at all, because if I was still in Cincinnati, I would have been home a week ago," he said. "These guys gave me an opportunity to do something. So to be frustrated? No. Be thankful that I got an opportunity? Yes."
He was disappointed, too. So was Thome.
"You never know when that window's going to close," Thome said.
The window for the first all-Chicago World Series since 1906 was wide open not too long ago.
"We played hard," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I feel proud of my ballplayers. We went through a lot of tough times. One thing nobody can take away from us, we fight every day."
While the Cubs got swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers after posting the best record in the National League, making it an even 100 years without a championship, the White Sox finally stumbled after squeezing into the playoffs.
Even though they spent 148 days atop the AL Central they needed to win the final scheduled game against Cleveland, a makeup with Detroit and a tiebreaker with Minnesota just to get into the playoffs. Then, they dropped the first two games at Tampa Bay before coming through Sunday, winning 5-3 to avoid elimination -- for one day, anyway.
But with Floyd struggling, the White Sox couldn't keep it going.
A 17-game winner in his second season in Chicago, the right-hander gave up solo homers to B.J. Upton in the first and third innings and his season came to an end before recording an out in the fourth.
He walked Carl Crawford leading off, and left fielder DeWayne Wise took a bad angle on a line drive by Chicago native Cliff Floyd. That allowed the ball to sail past him for a run-scoring double, and Dioner Navarro followed with an RBI single that made it 4-0 and chased Gavin Floyd.
"Gavin is just behind the count most of the game," Guillen said. "That's why he got hit. He was behind the count almost every hitter. It's not easy to pitch against any ballclub in the big leagues when you are behind the count."
Homers by Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye aside, the White Sox managed just four hits against Andy Sonnanstine and two relievers. And it was a particularly tough postseason for Griffey and Thome, who have 1,152 homers between them but just two World Series appearances and no championships.
Thome was on pennant winners with Cleveland in 1995 and '97, but Griffey saw perhaps his last chance slip away.
The odds of the White Sox exercising a $16.5 million option appear slim given the way he struggled for them. He batted .260 with three homers and 18 RBIs and was no better against Tampa Bay, going 2-for-10 in his first postseason appearance since 1997.
"For these guys to give me an opportunity to come here and be a part of something special, I can't thank them enough," Griffey said.
Thome, whose homer lifted the White Sox to a 1-0 win over Minnesota in the tiebreaker game, had just two hits in 16 at-bats against the Rays.
"You always want to come out and do well and contribute," he said. "Whenever you're in that situation, you want to get some big hits and it just never happened."