The White Sox couldn’t add on to a Sunday lead and Jeff Samardzija and his defense didn’t hang on to it, either.
Instead of earning what could have been a nice series victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers, the White Sox blew a three-run advantage and lost 6-4 in front of 29,059 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Samardzija allowed six runs, including three on two sixth-inning homers, as the White Sox dropped to five games below .500. Avisail Garcia had a three-run homer in the team’s second straight loss as the White Sox finished with six hits, including only one over the final four innings.
“Obviously no one’s happy,” said Samardzija, who has given up at least five runs in five of 12 starts. “We’ve got to win those games. I put that on myself. Get four runs, you’ve got to take advantage of that and hold them to less than that and get the win.”
This wasn’t entirely on Samardzija as his defense gave away at least one run, if not two.
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But Samardzija had no answers for the middle of the Tigers lineup in the sixth inning as a two-run lead quickly turned into a 5-4 deficit. The right-hander looked as if he had found an escape hatch in the sixth when he erased an Ian Kinsler leadoff single by inducing a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Miguel Cabrera.
But a 1-0 offering from Samardzija caught enough of the plate for Yoenis Cespedes to hit an opposite-field solo shot to cut the White Sox lead to 4-3. Tyler Collins, who went 3-for-3 with an RBI, singled and J.D. Martinez blasted a cut-fastball out to center. Cespedes singled in an insurance run past the dive of Conor Gillaspie in the eighth off Samardzija, who gave up 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Samardzija also surrendered another first-inning run on a two-out single by Collins. And Garcia’s misplay of a Collins hit in the fourth -- he slipped and turned a single into a triple -- helped Detroit cut it to 4-2 on a Martinez single.
“For the most part (Samardzija) has been stronger as the game goes on,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He gets through those first couple innings and he seems to be able to usually put it away. This one, I think we gave them an early opportunity with the ball in right field and you give away little things like that and the home runs end up hurting you.
“This is a tough lineup and they got him.”
The White Sox got to Detroit starter Alfredo Simon early but never put the game out of reach despite several chances.
Trailing 1-0 in the first, they took advantage of a Cabrera error as Garcia crushed a three-run homer with two outs to pull ahead. An inning later, Adam Eaton had a two-out RBI triple to push the lead to three runs.
But the White Sox ran into a pair of outs in the fourth inning as Geovany Soto, who doubled, was cut down at third on Carlos Sanchez fielder’s choice. Sanchez was then caught stealing to end the inning.
Eaton doubled to start the fifth but advanced no further as Simon retired Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and LaRoche in order.
“He had his plan from the beginning and he executed very well,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “In the first two or three innings some pitches were up in the zone, but then he made an adjustment and he did well.”
Simon set down the final 12 batters he faced, allowing four runs (one earned) and five hits in eight innings. He struck out seven.
Though Simon was effective, Ventura said he had help, pointing to the offense’s effort in the fifth after Eaton’s double.
“He was just good down in the zone, getting guys to chase,” Ventura said. “Not a lot of real good swings after that. We have to be better and probably more selective. Any time you’re throwing up that many zeroes late, he just shut us down and you have to be a little more selective and make things happen, but you have to capitalize. I think we had Eaton leading off with a double and didn’t get anything out of it. “Those always seem to come back and bite you.”