After two games of hard heat from Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer the White Sox offense couldn’t adjust to soft tossing Shaun Marcum.
While they belted a pair of solo home runs on Wednesday night, Marcum otherwise held the White Sox in check as they fell to the Cleveland Indians 4-3 in front of 15,146 at U.S. Cellular Field.
The White Sox dropped back below .500 as Marcum and two pitchers combined on a six-hitter. Cody Allen pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth against the White Sox, who are now 2-16 when they score three runs or fewer.
“It’s such a change of speed between Bauer and Kluber,” said leadoff man Adam Eaton, who accounted for the team’s first run with a 404-foot solo homer. “(Marcum) mixes his pitches. You never know what’s coming in certain counts.
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“My third at-bat, I could have sold the house he wasn’t going to throw me a heater in. I figured something soft away. He hit his spot and you kind of tip your cap to that. “That’s kind of how the day went.”
Making his first start since July 2013, Marcum didn’t allow more than one batter to reach base in an inning. Bringing a much softer approach than Kluber and Bauer, Marcum allowed only a single his first time through the lineup.
Eaton did get the White Sox on the board first with a two-out, solo home run in the third inning, his first since April 12, 2014. But Marcum settled in and retired 12 of the next 13 batters until he surrendered a solo homer to Conor Gillaspie with two outs in the seventh inning to allow the White Sox back within two.
Marcum limited the White Sox to four hits and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings.
“We were swinging at a lot of stuff off the plate and Marcum did a good job of getting us to do that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
The White Sox scored a run in the ninth after Allen gave up a single to Jose Abreu, who extended his hitting streak to 15, and walked Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia. Gillaspie popped out on the first pitch he saw before Alexei Ramirez’s infield single drove in a run. But Allen struck out pinch hitter J.B. Shuck.
The effort was similar to the first two games of this series and the first 20 of the season when the White Sox offense has sputtered. In their first 20 games, the White Sox scored 64 runs, a trend they seem to have reversed this month until Cleveland came to town.
The Indians did most of their damage in the seventh against the White Sox bullpen. Dan Jennings issued a leadoff walk in the seventh and threw wide of second on a fielder’s choice. One out later, Jose Ramirez singled in the go-ahead run off Jennings and Michael Brantley doubled in two more to put Cleveland ahead 4-1.
“You're just giving other teams opportunities,” Ventura said. “You clean that up and you probably have a better chance to win that game. The guys fought back there in the ninth, but really I think on our pitching side you're just giving them too many opportunities.”
The Indians couldn’t break through against Carlos Rodon, who walked six batters in his previous start, and issued five more free passes on Wednesday night. But unlike last Friday in Oakland, Rodon managed to work around his walks until his last inning, when he walked two.
Rodon -- who has walked 19 batters in 22 1/3 innings this season -- allowed a run, four hits and struck out four over six innings.