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ICYMI: Giolito flirts with no-hitter; Cubs bullpen falters; Blackhawks' playoff hopes on life support

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: Giolito flirts with no-hitter; Cubs bullpen falters; Blackhawks' playoff hopes on life support

Lucas Giolito flirted with a no-hitter, the Cubs bullpen faltered twice against the Rangers, the Bulls got a late-season feel good story and the Blackhawks' playoff hopes are on life support. Here are some of the stories you may have missed from the weekend in Chicago sports.

Cubs

After winning the season opener, the Cubs dropped two games in Texas highlighted by bullpen struggles in both games. On Saturday, Yu Darvish struggled to the tune of seven walks and Carl Edwards Jr. was at the heart of a bullpen implosion in the eighth inning.

Cole Hamels got the start on Sunday and started well, but gave up five runs in the fifth inning and downplayed the importance of a tight strike zone from the umpire. The Cubs kept coming back on offense (Randy Rosario's hat catch on a Kyle Schwarber home run ball is wild), but the bullpen gave up another lead, this time in the seventh. The Rangers won 11-10 on a walk-off wild pitch from Pedto Strop.

White Sox

The White Sox split the final two games of the opening series in Kansas City, losing two out of three in the series. Eloy Jimenez got his first two MLB hits in an 8-6 loss on Saturday, but the offensive star was Yoan Moncada. Reynaldo Lopez struggled on Saturday, but Lucas Giolito came through in a big way on Sunday. Young pitchers on the White Sox staff, like those two, have bigger expectations for 2019.

Giolito took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Sunday in a 6-3 win. That game also showed what the White Sox offense is capable of when it is clicking.

Blackhawks

In desperate need of points, the Blackhawks only got one in LA on Saturday. The Kings got a goal with less than five minutes left in the third period and then got the game-winner in the final minute of overtime. The 3-2 overtime loss leaves the Blackhawks six points out of the final playoff spot (the only one they can still attain). With four games left, the Blackhawks have no more room for error and need help from the Avalanche, Coyotes and Wild ahead of them.

Bulls

The Bulls are limping to the end of the season with several of the team's best players out with injuries. On Saturday, they lost for the fourth straight game, 124-101 to the Raptors. Walter Lemon Jr., a 26-year-old making his Bulls debut and playing in just his sixth NBA game, notched career-highs across the board. He finished with 19 points, six assists and four steals in 31 minutes. The shorthanded Bulls are struggling down the stretch, but Lemon gives fans something to cheer for in the final few games.

Jim Boylen also reacted to Fred Hoiberg getting the job at Nebraska.

ICYMI: Cubs, White Sox go in opposite directions to start the first half

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: Cubs, White Sox go in opposite directions to start the first half

The Cubs swept the Pirates to open the second half while the White Sox went the other direction, getting swept in Oakland. Here are some Chicago sports stories from the weekend that you may have missed.

Cubs

The Cubs beat the Pirates on Friday and then crushed them with seven runs in the first inning on Saturday. Jon Lester even got in the act with a home run. The win locked up the team's first series win in over a month.

On Sunday, the Cubs finished off the sweep behind a quality start from Jose Quintana. After the sweep, the Cubs had a simple explanation for why the team played better over the weekend.

White Sox

Oakland remains a house of horrors for the White Sox. The Sox began the second half with a 5-1 loss at the A's on Friday. Ivan Nova took the loss and A.J. Reed debuted at DH.

The next day, Dylan Covey returned from the IL. Covey's start did not go well in a lopsided loss.

Oakland finished the sweep off with a walk-off win on Sunday, but Reynaldo Lopez didn't allow an earned run in six innings.

Bulls

The Bulls wrapped up Summer League play on Saturday. Coby White showed some glimpses of his playmaking ability in the finale against the Magic.

ICYMI: White Sox trending in the right direction; Cubs confident best is yet to come; Bulls rookies shine in Summer League

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: White Sox trending in the right direction; Cubs confident best is yet to come; Bulls rookies shine in Summer League

Here are some of the Chicago sports stories you may have missed from the weekend. 

White Sox

The White Sox have had a truly amazing first half of the season when compared to last year's struggles. Whether or not their overall record ends up being closer to last season's, the progress that the White Sox have seen from their young talent is real.

They notched a win over the Cubs in the fourth game of the Crosstown Classic series on Sunday, tying the series at two games apiece. Despite some continued struggles against the Cubs from All-Star Lucas Giolito, the Sox have overall played well the past week.

As Rick Hahn has stated before, the White Sox win total isn't as important as clear-cut development among the core players. Fortunately for White Sox fans, winning games and focusing on player development have gone hand in hand these days. 

Cubs

The Cubs have had an up-and-down season so far but still, sit in the driver's seat in the NL Central.

The North Siders were in the midst of a four-game losing streak before bouncing back with consecutive wins over the Pirates and White Sox. The Cubs' win over the White Sox on July 6 contained a great six-inning outing from Jon Lester but the team still had their fair share of avoidable mistakes. The Cubs dropped the fourth game of the Crosstown Classic series, but still received a solid offensive contribution from rookie Robel Garica, who has been an awesome story for the Cubs.

There is an overall sense of optimism in the clubhouse, as the team feels the best is yet to come.

Bulls

Summer League is not a major indicator of long-term success but it does help us get an idea of how a rookie's game will translate to the NBA. And so far, the Bulls have gotten to see how effective Coby White and Daniel Gafford can be as a duo. Jim Boylen has been very pleased with the overall direction of the team and with good reason after a solid offseason.

White has shown off a variety of nice step-back shots and been a true asset in the pick-and-roll game. Gafford has been a monster around the basket, blocking shots and moving his feet well when defending in the pick-and-roll. There is legitimate excitement surrounding the Bulls.

Between the return of Denzel Valentine and Chandler Hutchison, the free agent additions and another expected leap from Zach Laine and Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls are poised for a (within reason) bounce-back season in a weakened Eastern Conference.