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Pelfrey stays grounded without best stuff

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey admitted he didn't have his best stuff in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

"I didn't think my stuff was great, and my command wasn't very good, for whatever reason," Pelfrey said. "I tip my cap to them for making me throw over the plate and grind through at-bats and making my day tougher than it was already going to be to begin with."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey admitted he didn't have his best stuff in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

"I didn't think my stuff was great, and my command wasn't very good, for whatever reason," Pelfrey said. "I tip my cap to them for making me throw over the plate and grind through at-bats and making my day tougher than it was already going to be to begin with."

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Things could have been tougher if it weren't for the pitcher's best friend -- the double play.

"It was just one of those games," Chicago catcher Kevan Smith said. "He was competing. He wanted to get into the seventh or eighth but they brought their sticks a little bit and took advantage of some of the pitches that maybe we left up or shouldn't have thrown. I thought he did a heck of a job getting out of some jams."

Pelfrey used double plays to limit the damage, including one in the bottom of the third. With the Rays having already scored three runs to start the frame, Pelfrey managed to get Rays catcher Derek Norris to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to stop the bleeding.

Video: CWS@TB: White Sox turn inning-ending double play

"I don't think those pitches were that good, either," Pelfrey said of the sinker he used to coax the DP balls. "They were more over the middle. I think [White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier] made a good play on that one."

Since 2015, Pelfrey has induced 58 double plays, the third-most among all pitchers in that span. Last season he coaxed hitters into 24 double plays, the third-most in the American League, behind Texas' Martin Perez and Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma.

Pelfrey, who has a 51.6 percent ground-ball rate over the past three seasons, was able to get through the fifth on just six pitches after inducing three straight groundouts. The veteran righty took the loss, however, to fall to 2-5 on the season. He allowed two earned runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three -- two of which were intentional.

"He kept us in there," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "I know he had a lot of traffic throughout the ballgame -- some of that was self-induced by myself putting on some guys to try and get him some matchups -- but other than that, I thought he did a pretty nice job."

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago White Sox, Mike Pelfrey