CHICAGO -- At least Mike Devereaux can take some consolation from the fact the Orioles don't have any more Sunday afternoon games against the White Sox this year.
For the second Sunday in a row, the usually reliable center fielder misplayed a fly ball that proved damaging. A week ago, in Baltimore, he dropped a fly ball that set up a two-run first inning as the White Sox beat the Orioles, 5-2.
Yesterday's play was even more bizarre, because when Frank Thomas' drive to deep center field bounced off Devereaux's glove, it landed on the other side of the fence for a two-run homer.
The White Sox took the lead for good on that play, and eventually took the Orioles out of field-goal range in the final innings for a 14-10 win.
"That ball has to be caught," Devereaux said in the clubhouse later. "It was just a case of me taking my eyes off the ball too soon."
It appeared as though Devereaux may have misjudged the wall, not the ball, leaping and bracing himself a step before reaching the barrier. "That wasn't it [the reason he didn't make the catch]," said Devereaux. "I might have jumped a step sooner than I had to, but I could have caught it where I was -- I just took my eyes off it."
Manager Johnny Oates admitted to being somewhat mystified by it all. "I don't know, maybe we're just so used to seeing him catch everything hit out there," he said.
"For the last three years I don't ever remember him dropping a ball and he's done it twice in a week. I guess it's just one of those things. I know this -- when you put Devo, [Brady] Anderson and [Joe] Orsulak out there, those three are as good at catching the ball as anybody."
For those who wondered why Ben McDonald was even pitching to Thomas in that situation (with a man on third and two outs in the fifth inning), it was a classic case of trying to work around a hitter -- and not succeeding. "The idea was not to give him anything to hit, and if he walked just go after [George] Bell," said McDonald.
The strategy dictated four pitches out of the strike zone without making the walk intentional -- with the outside hope that Thomas might get himself out. McDonald only got to throw three pitches out of the strike zone.
"I threw him a curveball so bad I couldn't believe he swung at it," said McDonald. "When he did I felt I was out of the inning -- but the ball ended up over the fence.
"It was a crazy game all around," said the 24-year-old right-hander, who had his roughest outing of the year even though he felt he was throwing good.
"I felt good, I had a pretty good fastball and breaking ball, and I threw a lot of changeups," said McDonald. "I could have gotten ahead on the count a little more often, but they just hit the ball today. They hit some good pitches.
It just seemed like everything they hit was either in the hole or over the fence."
For McDonald (5-1), the loss broke a personal six-game winning streak dating back to last year and left Mike Mussina (5-0) as the lone remaining undefeated Orioles starter.