Either way, the result was a 9-7 loss to the A's, frustrating because they came back to lead only to give it away to baseball's hottest team since the beginning of July.
And what these teams could be doing in the end is battling for a wild-card spot. They are within a half-game of each other, although right now the Sox are still in first place in the Central after the Tigers lost Saturday in Texas.
"A frustrating loss," said Matt Thornton, who turned a one-run lead into a one-run deficit in the eighth inning to see his record fall to 4-8. "The frustration level is pretty high, but what are you going to do? It's the game of baseball and you come back the next day and be ready to go."
That's about all Sox starter Francisco Liriano can do as well.
He showed why he is 3-10 and was readily available at the trade deadline. After he got his first five outs by strikeouts, he could barely get anyone out, wasting a two-run lead in the process.
The A's scored five times in the second inning on four hits, two walks and a hit batter. And then they added another run in the third before Philip Humber was summoned in the fourth.
"I was trying to do too much in the third inning and missing my spot with almost every pitch," Liriano said. "I was getting behind in the count. It's tough pitching when you get behind in the count most of the time."
It was Liriano's second performance of less than four innings in three weeks. In his last appearance with the Twins, against the White Sox, he lasted only 22/3 innings while allowing seven runs.
This time, the Sox's offense — and three-plus innings of scoreless relief by Philip Humber — left him with a no-decision by digging out of a four-run hole.
The offense in the early going was led by catcher Tyler Flowers, who got a chance to play because A.J. Pierzynski served as DH in the absence of Paul Konerko.
"We'll move (the DH role) around, there won't be one set person," Ventura said.
Pierzynski scored the first run and Flowers knocked in the second run in the second inning. Flowers also singled home the third run in the fourth inning.
After Kevin Youkilis, who was later smacked in the left forearm with a pitch, closed the gap to 6-5 with a two-run, fifth-inning homer, Flowers tied it with a solo shot in the sixth. Pierzynski gave the Sox a brief lead in the seventh with an RBI single.
"This is a tough league. There are no breaks," Humber said. "There's a bunch of teams right there fighting for spots and especially this year with the extra playoff team. So, we are all trying to grind it out to put ourselves in a good position."