BOSTON — Jose Quintana turned in his worst start of 2016, but a thunderous eighth inning made sure a bizarre losing streak came to an end.
Brett Lawrie’s solo home run completed a comeback that pushed the White Sox to an 8-6 win over the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night at Fenway Park, securing a series win over the American League wild card leaders. Lawrie’s blast — which cleared the Green Monster seats in left field and sailed toward Landsdowne Street — came shortly after Melky Cabrera’s game-tying two-run home run, with both shots coming off right-hander Koji Uehara.
The White Sox entered Wednesday having lost each of Quintana’s last seven starts despite the 27-year-old Colombian left-hander having a solid 3.86 ERA over that stretch. In a classic baseball-is-strange outcome, the White Sox won the worst start Quintana has had this season.
“Crazy game,” Quintana said with a grin. “Baseball, that happens.”
Quintana issued a career high six walks and was tagged for six runs on eight hits with only one strikeout over 5 1/3 innings. The six runs were a season high and the most he allowed since May 24, 2015 against the Minnesota Twins.
But the White Sox offense that has so frequently let down Quintana was there to pick him up.
With Boston holding a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth, Todd Frazier belted a game-tying two-run homer into the Green Monster seats in left field. It was Frazier’s 21st home run of the season, the most hit by a White Sox third baseman before the All-Star break in franchise history (Bill Melton previously held the record with 20 in 1971).
Quintana, though, couldn’t put together a much-needed shutdown inning, immediately giving the lead back to Boston on Hanley Ramirez’s solo home run. Catcher Sandy Leon — whose third walk of the game knocked Quintana out of it — scored on Xander Bogaerts’ infield single off Matt Albers later in the sixth.
“I said in the dugout, let’s get the bats going and it’s time we picked him up,” Frazier said. “Some people took it to heart and that’s what you need. … It’s about time we stepped up for him. Three or four more times, at least.”
Despite not having a three-game winning streak since winning four in a row May 6-9, the White Sox battled back with a sort of verve that’s been missing for weeks. Cabrera’s two-run home run — and ninth inning insurance run-scoring single, which gave him four RBIs — was a jolt, just like Jose Abreu’s game-winning double and Zach Duke’s miraculous escape Monday and Tim Anderson’s leadoff home run Tuesday were. Lawrie’s go-ahead home run followed suit for a team that manager Robin Ventura sees pulling out of a tailspin that produced 26 losses in 36 games.
“You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself, and it’s not going to get you anywhere,” Ventura said. “They continue just to play and grind it out. You take the abuse and everything else of what that record did to you, but they’ve weathered it. They’re getting a little momentum back and a little spark we had early.”
Three games isn’t enough to erase all the damage, but the White Sox are at least back to .500. It’ll take a longer stretch of playing well to assuredly say that 36-game malaise has passed.
But to get out of it, the White Sox had to start somewhere. Maybe that place was Fenway Park.
“There was something different about the last couple days,” Frazier said. “The energy was there, the focus was there.”