DETROIT — The Chicago White Sox could have taken control of the AL Central on Tuesday.
Instead, they left Comerica Park frustrated again.
The White Sox left 12 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Their lead remained at two games after Cleveland's 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay.
"If you leave that many on base, you aren't going to win many games," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It keeps happening, and I don't know why. We had opportunities, and didn't take them."
The White Sox have lost 12 of 19.
"No one ever said this was going to be easy," Jermaine Dye said. "We've got to stay positive and just find a way to get some momentum."
Chicago had won three straight before dropping the first two games of its four-game series in Detroit.
"Most of these guys have never been in this situation, but I have, and I have to lead them," Guillen said.
"You might want to go to your room, call your mom and cry, but when you come to the ballpark and put on the uniform, you have to be a man. I have 30 men to lead."
The Tigers have won four straight.
"We're doing our job," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said as his players watched the Indians-Devil Rays game in the clubhouse.
Nate Robertson (7-15) ended a five-start losing streak, allowing one run on five hits and five walks in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out five in his first win since Aug. 23.
"I thought I had pitched well enough to win some of those games," Robertson said. "Tonight, I made pitches when I needed them, and the defense made the plays."
Chris Spurling pitched 1 2-3 innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, before the White Sox got a run in the ninth off Fernando Rodney.
Juan Uribe led off with a walk, took second on Tadahito Iguchi's one-out walk and moved to third when Aaron Rowand grounded into a force at second.
Paul Konerko followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2 before Rodney got Dye to fly to center for his ninth save.
Brandon McCarthy (2-2) lost for the first time in six starts, dating to May 27. He gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
"I wasn't sharp," he said. "I had a lot of little problems. Everyone is a little down right now after two disappointing losses, but we'll figure it out."
McCarthy retired his first eight batters before Omar Infante hit his ninth homer of the season to give Detroit a 1-0 lead in the third.
The White Sox got three walks in the fourth, but a double play kept them from scoring.
Chicago tied it in the fifth. Pablo Ozuna singled, stole second, moved to third on Chris Widger's groundout and scored when Uribe slapped a single through the drawn-in infield.
Monroe's 20th homer gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the fifth, and they added to the margin in the sixth.
With one out, singles by Carlos Guillen and Chris Shelton put runners on the corners. Former White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez then hit a blooper to shallow center, just past the reach of second baseman Iguchi for a run-scoring single.
The White Sox loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Spurling got pinch-hitter Geoff Blum to ground into a 1-2-3 double play. Blum entered the game hitting .115 in his last eight games, and had only played once since Sept. 10.
RED SOX 3, 5; BLUE JAYS 1, 7: At Boston, Russ Adams hit a sacrifice fly to break an eighth-inning tie as Toronto rallied to beat Boston, splitting a day-night doubleheader and spoiling Boston's chance to take the lead in the AL East.
Tim Wakefield pitched seven strong innings to give Boston a victory in the day game. But with the Fenway fans paying as much attention to the Yankees' game in Baltimore as the one in front of them, the Red Sox lost the nightcap and fell a half-game behind in the division, pending the outcome of New York's game against the Orioles.
TWINS 3, ROYALS 1: At Minneapolis, Johan Santana allowed six hits over seven innings, and Minnesota snapped its four-game losing streak with a victory over Kansas City.
DEVIL RAYS 5, INDIANS 4: At Cleveland, the Indians failed to take advantage of another loss by the stumbling White Sox.
Scott Kazmir held Cleveland to one run in six innings and Julio Lugo hit a three-run homer to lead Tampa Bay and prevent the Indians from gaining ground on Chicago in the AL Central.
ORIOLES 17, YANKEES 9: At Baltimore, Gary Sheffield hit two homers and drove in six runs, but Baltimore ended a nine-game losing streak with a victory in an ugly game that lasted 4 hours, 16 minutes. The Yankees trailed 5-1 before Sheffield hit a two-run homer in the third inning. He put New York ahead with his 11th career grand slam, a shot to left in the fourth that made it 7-5.