The effort continues to be there, but the results remain woefully short for the White Sox.
The Pittsburgh Pirates blooped, bled and broken-batted the White Sox into submission in front of 21, 296 on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Gregory Polanco’s RBI groundout in the eighth inning was just enough to send the White Sox to their seventh straight loss as they fell, 3-2, to Pittsburgh.
After losing four straight Interleague meetings with the Pirates, the White Sox — who were outhit by Pittsburgh 46-13 and finished with four or fewer hits in four straight games for the first time in franchise history — dropped to a season-worst nine games below .500 despite rallying twice against All-Star-to-be Gerrit Cole.
“Sometimes the ball has different ideas of what it wants to do,” White Sox starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. “It was just one of those days. We had to work for everything we got.”
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During their go-ahead rally in the eighth, the Pirates stayed with the same formula they used all night, heeding the advice of Wee Willie Keeler, who famously said: “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.”
Tied at 2, Jung Ho Kang reached on a one-out infield single — Pittsburgh’s fourth of the game — against Jake Petricka. Pedro Alvarez then got enough of a 2-2 curveball from Zach Duke to pitch it into center and put runners on the corners. Polanco hit a grounder to the right side and Gordon Beckham couldn’t field it cleanly, making an unlikely double play impossible and giving the Pirates the lead for good.
“They caught some breaks,” White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton said.
Pittsburgh utilized the same practice for seven innings against Samardzija, dinking him to the tune of 10 singles.
But Samardzija didn’t cave, limiting his opponents to two runs. Kang singled off Samardzija’s glove in the fourth to drive in a run and make it 1-0. An inning later, Pittsburgh loaded the bases as Samardzija couldn’t track down Jordy Mercer’s single off his glove, Corey Hart hit a jam shot to right and the pitcher hit Chris Stewart. Josh Harrison’s sac fly made it a 2-1 game.
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Samardzija struck out seven and allowed two runs, throwing strikes on 78 of 114 pitches.
“He had his spots there where they didn’t hit stuff hard necessarily,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He pitched well enough to win.”
With the aid of a wicked two-seam fastball, scoring off Cole (11-2) seemed like an impossible feat.
But the White Sox did anyway as Melky Cabrera had a sac fly in the fourth inning to tie it at 1 — Jose Abreu had doubled and advanced on a fly out. Three innings later, Geovany Soto crushed a solo homer to left center to tie it at 2.
The White Sox also missed out on two great chances against Cole, who limited them to three hits and two runs in seven innings. Eaton singled and moved up on a wild pitch with no outs in the first inning but never advanced from there.
Eaton then walked to start the sixth inning, stole second and moved to third on J.B. Shuck’s bunt. But Abreu grounded out with the infield in, and Cabrera flew out to left center after Adam LaRoche walked with two outs.
“We’ve had some opportunities to win some games, and we just haven’t been able to mount anything offensively,” Ventura said. “When we have that opportunity, when we have that inning when it looks like it’s your way, we don’t do anything with it — that’s the frustrating part.”