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TB@CWS: Brignac's RBI single puts Rays on the board

CHICAGO -- Tampa Bay saw a change of venues Thursday afternoon, but the outcome proved hauntingly familiar.

Tropicana Field hosted the Rays' first five games of the season and the Rays did not win a game. U.S. Cellular Field played host to the club's first road game of the season, and nothing changed. Tampa Bay dropped a 5-1 decision to Chicago, moving to 0-6 on the new season.

Since the advent of divisional play in 1969, the Rays are the second division champion to start the season 0-6, joining the 1997 Cardinals.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rays are the second team in Major League history -- and the first in 106 years -- to start the season 0-6 the year after having the best record in their league. The Boston Americans had the American League's best record in 1904 at 96-59, but opened the 1905 season at 0-6.

The Rays have not held a lead in any game this season, which amounts to 54 innings. They have scored just eight runs on 27 hits and in five of the six losses, they scored just one run.

"We just have to score more runs," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "However you want to slice it, we just have to score more runs. We have to hit the ball better. We're still not there yet.

"It's absurd to even think you can go into some slumps or dives and not hit the ball all year. But [scoring just] one run all the time is not a whole lot you can cope with."

Chicago wheeled out an old friend for Thursday's game in Edwin Jackson, who made his second start of the season and his first against his former teammates since no-hitting them at Tropicana Field last summer.

Sam Fuld ended any suspense that Jackson might repeat his feat when he singled to start the game, but the Rays could do little else against the White Sox right-hander. By the time Jackson had five innings under his belt, he had also notched 11 strikeouts to set a White Sox Opening Day strikeout record.

After seven innings, Jackson had claimed his 12th strikeout victim to tie a career high. And in the eighth, he struck out Fuld to establish a new career high of 13.

Jackson allowed one run on four hits and a walk in eight innings to earn his second win of the season and his 50th career win. He is now 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in three career starts against Tampa Bay.

Jackson had better stuff and pitched a better game than he did when he no-hit the Rays, according to B.J. Upton, who hit against him on both occasions.

"Yeah, for sure [he was better on Thursday than during his no-hitter]," Upton said. "When he's got his slider working, especially throwing it off of his fastball, he's a tough, tough guy to face."

Johnny Damon called Jackson "really good" on Thursday.

"His slider was really tough to pick up on," Damon said. "And then when you started looking for his slider, he's got enough on his fastball to get the job done. He's throwing 95 [mph]. The cold weather. I mean, he's a beast out there."

Damon believes Jackson has evolved as a pitcher.

"We saw him a few times last year, he was really good, too," Damon said. "I think he's become a pitcher instead of a thrower. He's always had good stuff. But now he knows how to use it.

"What gets him in trouble is if players don't bite on that slider, then he starts to walk guys. And then he has to start throwing his fastball a little more. But it was so good."

Chicago took an early lead on Alex Rios' two-run double off David Price in the first. Rios then scored another run when Paul Konerko singled in the third for a 3-0 lead.

Price allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings to take his second loss in as many starts. The left-hander is now 0-4 with a 4.87 ERA in four starts against the White Sox.

"I thought David was pretty good," Maddon said. "But he was not as good as Edwin was today. ... We pitched well enough to win."

Price said the Rays' silent bats did not add any pressure to his outing.

"I know I've got to go out there and give us a chance to win," Price said. "Whether that's throwing a shutout or keeping it to two or three runs. That's it. But I don't feel any added pressure right now."

Reid Brignac had an RBI single off Jackson with one out in the eighth to account for the Rays' only run. The White Sox answered with two in the bottom half of the inning to equal the final margin of 5-1.

Jackson offered this about his former teammates and their current plight:

"It's a tough game. It's a great group of guys over there. It's a lot of talent. That's just how the ball rolls. You have teams with payrolls equal to ours and they are in the same boat. Baseball is a crazy game, but it's how you finish. If you start out slow and finish strong, that's the main thing."

Despite the loss, the Rays remain optimistic that their fortunes will soon change.

"Everybody's going to start hitting," Price said. "We all know that. Hopefully it happens tomorrow."

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