CHICAGO -- To look at some of the numbers, the Red Sox' offense has been plenty good enough.
Entering Friday's action, the Red Sox were second only to Texas in runs scored among American League teams. What's more, they lead all of baseball in extra-base hits and were tied for third in doubles.
But Boston's offense has also been ridiculously inconsistent. When they're not scoring in double figures -- as they've done 10 times, as much as any team in either league -- they seem to be in danger of scoring just a couple.
Or, like Friday, none at all.
The Sox were shut out for the third time this season Friday. They had chances right from the beginning when the first two hitters of the game -- Scott Podsednik and Dustin Pedroia -- reached base. But despite the first-and-second, no-out opportunity, the Sox couldn't score.
They put the leadoff man on base in three of the first five innings, but came up empty.
In his final three at-bats, Dustin Pedroia came up with four runners in scoring position -- and six baserunners overall -- and made the final out each time.
The frustration took its toll on Pedroia in the seventh when his opposite-field liner toward the right field line was hauled in by Cubs outfielder David DeJesus, leaving the bases full of Red Sox teammates. Enraged, Pedroia slammed his helmet with both hands into the ground down the first base line.
"We hit some balls good, man. We just hit it right to 'em,'' said Pedroia. "We're not trying to be (lousy); everyone's trying, man. We're not playing good. Today we didn't play good. We scored no runs. You can't win a game if you score zero runs.''
The inability to score much has haunted the Red Sox of late. Friday marked the seventh time in the last 11 games in which they scored three runs or fewer. Unsurprisingly, they're just 1-6 in those seven games.
"We had some balls hit hard,'' lamented Kevin Youkilis. "It just stunk. It really did. (The scoreboard didn't reflect) how we swung the bats. We swung the bats pretty good. It's just, man, we couldn't get anything to fall.''
In addition to hard-hit balls by Pedroia to right which were caught by DeJesus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia sent Alfonso Soriano to the warning track in left with a runner on and one out in the fifth before Soriano made a catch with his back against the ivy-covered wall.
Youkilis himself is in a 3-for-30 funk since the start of the last homestand, dropping his average to .212 for the season.
"They said it evens out, so if it evens out, I'm in good shape,'' said Youkilis. "Today was frustrating. Every at-bat was great and I didn't have anything to show for it. It's discouraging. It's good to drive the ball, but nothing fell in.''
The Sox have run into top starters in the past week, including Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and, Friday, Ryan Dempster.
But Youkilis doesn't want to use that as an excuse for the team's offensive failings.
"You can always say it's good pitching,'' he said, "but as a hitter, you have to go out there and hit. They always say good pitching will beat good hitting. But this team has great hitting and it's not getting the job done. And it's frustrating.''