The White Sox further cemented their deadline face with their fourth loss in five second-half games, but at least they did the fans at U.S. Cellular Field a favor by making it somewhat entertaining.
The Cardinals beat up Carlos Rodon for seven runs before the Sox even notched their first baserunner off Michael Wacha, so I can't say I expected them to bring the tying run to the plate during this game, much less more than once. Success is relative at this point.
The top of the order did its job. Adam Eaton drew three walks and scored a pair of runs, while Tyler Saladino hit his second homer as part of his first three-hit game. They gave the middle of the order multiple RBI chances, and it even cashed in on some of them.
Rodon just dug too deep a hole, and Eaton can claim a small amount of responsibility.
For the second time in three starts, an early error threw Rodon off course. He pitched a 1-2-3 first on 10 pitches before Jhonny Peralta led off the second with fly ball off the end of his bat. Eaton made an ill-advised dive and failed to block the ball, and it rolled all the way to the track for a Peralta triple.
From that point, Rodon's start was a slog. He limited the damage to one run in the second, eventually striking out the side on 25 pitches. But the damage doubled over the next two innings, with Yadier Molina delivering a two-run single in the third, and Matt Holliday hitting a first-pitch slider for a grand slam in a four-run fourth. After throwing 10 pitches in the first inning, he needed 89 to get through his final three.
Daniel Webb allowed a solo shot to Mark Reynolds in the fifth, but that was the only run allowed by the bullpen over the final five innings. Webb handled three of them by himself, with Matt Albers pitching the eighth and Dan Jennings the ninth.
They kept the game interesting after the offense made it so. The Sox started tallying firsts in the fourth -- baserunner (Eaton walk), hit (Saladino single) and run (Jose Abreu RBI single). Melky Cabrera followed with a sac fly to cut the lead to 7-2.
After the Reynolds homer, the Sox cut the lead further with another crooked number. Geovany Soto answered with a solo homer of his own to right. Two batters later, Eaton walked on four pitches to keep the inning alive for Saladino, who battled Wacha to a full count before turning on an outer-half fastball for a two-run homer, narrowing the gap to three runs.
The Sox couldn't make it any closer, although they had two more cracks at it. In the seventh, Eaton walked with one out, and Saladino followed with a grounder to first. What should've been a 3-6 fielder's choice turned into runners on second and third for Abreu after Reynolds threw the ball into left field. But Abreu grounded out back to the mound, and Cabrera foul tipped a high fastball for strike three and out three.
A simliar scenario happened in the ninth. This time, Carlos Sanchez singled with one out, and two batters later, Saladino's chopper off the plate was initially ruled a 6-3. But a replay showed that Saladino beat the ball by couple inches, and the inning stayed alive for Abreu, who grounded out harmlessly to third to end the game.
*Rodon struck out Stephen Piscotty with a full-swing slider off his foot, which was the highlight of his start.
*Besides Eaton's bad dive, the Sox played decent defense otherwise, with Alexei Ramirez making an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow left center (right before the grand slam, sadly), and Saladino making a barehanded play to get an admittedly hobbling Holliday.
*Eaton's three-walk game was the first by a Sox hitter since Gordon Beckham on April 24.