The White Sox have nobody to blame for Saturday night’s loss but themselves.
Looking more like the error-prone club they were in the first half, the one that tripped all over itself, the White Sox missed out on key chances and were all about the freebies in a 6-3 loss to the Cubs in front of 39,579 at U.S. Cellular Field.
En route to their second straight loss, the White Sox committed two errors and stranded eight as they finished 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Winners of nine straight, the Cubs send Dan Haren against Chris Sale on Sunday as they look to complete series sweep.
“You look at the whole game and they made some mistakes we didn’t capitalize on and we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They put some stuff in play and they scored when we made some mistakes.
“You know the reason why you’re in a tough spot tonight.”
The first difficult position was choosing between red-hot hitters Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber in the fifth inning with a man on second and two outs in a 1-all game. Ventura elected for the lefty-lefty matchup for Jose Quintana (Fowler doubled in a run in the third) and Schwarber, hitless in his first two at-bats, made them pay.
“The swings that Schwarber had against Q earlier, Q’s better against lefties, it’s a better matchup,” Ventura said.
Schwarber ripped a 2-2 inside fastball from Quintana into right field for a tie-breaking single, though Avisail Garcia nearly threw Addison Russell out at home.
“I tried to go in,” Quintana said. “It was bad pitch and I have to be better on that pitch.”
The White Sox could say the same thing about their defense. Several miscues led to another Cubs run in the sixth.
Lost in the sky at dusk, center fielder Adam Eaton never had sight of Anthony Rizzo’s routine fly until it was too late and then he and Melky Cabrera nearly collided, resulting in a one-out double.
“Very helpless,” Eaton said. “It was a tough play. When it went up, trying to communicate to everyone that I can’t see the ball. As scary as it is, you don’t see it until it hits the lights. At that moment in time, I saw the ball. I didn’t hear Melky and I didn’t really know where he was so the center fielder in me said ‘I need to catch the ball here.’
“Probably wasn’t the right play to call for it.”
Jorge Soler singled to left and Cabrera threw high to the plate, just over Tyler Flowers’ glove, which allowed the run to score. Soler advanced to second on the play, as Quintana didn’t back up the throw.
Quintana allowed three earned runs and seven hits in six innings.
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A White Sox error in the seventh inning -- the result of two bad throws -- fueled a three-run rally to help the Cubs put the game out of reach.
With two on and one out and the Cubs leading 3-2, Zach Duke fielded Schwarber’s comebacker but threw high to second base. Though Alexei Ramirez caught it for the second out, he bounced an ill-advised relay throw to first -- Schwarber would have been safe anyway -- and Jose Abreu couldn’t pick it, which allowed David Ross to score from third. Rizzo and Soler then each singled in a run with two outs to give the Cubs a 6-2 lead.
A four-run cushion was plenty for Jake Arrieta, who wasn’t as sharp as he has been but was plenty good. Arrieta’s throwing error in the second inning on Ramirez’s comebacker led to a run. But after he stranded a man on second base in the first inning, Arrieta struck out Flowers to leave Ramirez at third in the second. Arrieta then pitched around Kris Bryant’s one-out error in the fourth.
With Garcia on third, Arrieta got another comebacker from Ramirez and had the lead runner hung up only for Bryant to drop the throw. But Arrieta struck out Carlos Sanchez -- who had an RBI groundout in the second -- and Flowers to strand the pair and keep it a 1-1 game.
Arrieta allowed five hits and three earned runs, striking out five in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 14-6.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Flowers said. “They’re taking advantage of mistakes. It seemed like every time someone got into scoring position they found a way to get him across some way, shooting balls down lines or blooping them in. They’re swinging it well, we’ve just got to score more runs.”