The White Sox ended a brutal road trip on a high note, snapping a season-long, five-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday afternoon.
It was a game that could’ve gone awry in multiple innings, but unlike in the previous five games, the White Sox (44-30) came up with enough timely hits and key outs. It wasn’t a flawless performance, or a memorable one besides it potentially being a slump buster, but it was an important win for the team to enter a homestand that begins Friday with some momentum.
At times this season, the White Sox would bust out of an offensive slump with double-digit runs. That wasn’t the case on Wednesday, but their clutch hits with two outs was a welcome sight for a team searching for any answers on offense.
The South Siders jumped out to a 1-0 lead with one out in the second inning, before the two-out hits started flowing. Leury García jumped all over Chase De Jong’s 93-mph fastball, sending it 402 feet into the right-field bleachers at 104.2 mph for his first homer of the year. And unlike on Tuesday, the White Sox didn’t suffer a rare loss when hitting a homer.
Luis González recorded his first major-league hit on a 93.3 mph fastball in the next at-bat. It was one of Chicago’s four hits off of De Jong’s fastball, which included three extra-base hits.
However, after Dylan Cease struck out — it was the first time he was retired this year after going 3-for-3 against the Reds — Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday by smacking a hanging curveball for a two-out, RBI double to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead. He and Brian Goodwin both had two-hit days.
The White Sox finished with five extra-base hits. They also had four hits with two outs, including a pair of doubles that drove in three runs.
The second such double came from Yasmani Grandal, who continues to emerge as the White Sox’s best clutch hitter. In a 2-2 game in the fifth inning, Anderson and Jake Lamb singled around a pair of strikeouts. And for the second straight day, Grandal came up with a clutch hit. He hit a slider that caught too much of the plate into deep left-center field, with the ball bouncing to the wall to allow the White Sox to retake a 4-2 advantage.
It chased De Jong from the game, allowing four earned runs, seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts in 4 2⁄3 innings. Four Pittsburgh relievers held the White Sox scoreless for the final 4 1⁄3 innings, as they still resembled a stumbling offense at times.
Still, despite lower spin rates and Pittsburgh recording five hits off of his 4-seam fastball, Cease pitched well enough to give the bullpen a chance to lock down the game. But his 5 2⁄3 innings didn’t come without some roadblocks, as Cease gave up two runs (one earned), seven hits, a walk and seven strikeouts.
After two dominant innings to start the game, Cease lost his focus in the third inning. Michael Perez hit a leadoff single for the Pirates, and then, when De Jong’s bunt came back to Cease, he flubbed a would-be double play. Cease doubled down on his mistake by committing a second error, with a throw wide of García covering first base. It put two runners in scoring position, which Cease couldn’t move past.
Adam Frazier hit an RBI ground out, followed by Ke’Bryan Hayes hitting a chopper over Yoán Moncada to tie the game, 2-2. White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz took a mound visit to talk to Cease after Bryan Reynolds moved Hayes to third on a single, in hopes of preventing the Pirates burying the White Sox in another early hole. Whatever was said during the long mound visit worked, as Cease forced a pop out and ground out to end the threat and keep the game tied.
Cease didn’t need another mound visit in the fifth inning after giving up a single and a walk to Frazier and Hayes to start the frame, though. Instead, he forced Reynolds to hit into a double play, and then Colin Moran into an inning-ending ground out.
It was an important sequence, which propelled him for the rest of his start. In the seventh inning, Codi Heuer conceded three straight hits, including Hayes driving in a run to cut it to a 4-3 game.
Luckily for the White Sox, Aaron Bummer looked like his old self. He worked out of the two-base-runner jam in the seventh, in part due to García’s nice play deep in the second-base hole to prevent the tying run from crossing the plate.
Bummer proceeded to pitch a perfect eighth inning that included two strikeouts, to hand it to Liam Hendriks. The top of the Pirates order worked a pair of full counts against the White Sox closer, but couldn’t reach base during Hendriks’ 19th save.
The White Sox get another day off on Thursday. They return to a full-capacity Guaranteed Rate Field at 7:10 p.m. on Friday against the surging Seattle Mariners, who won five straight games entering Wednesday. Colleen Sullivan has recap duty, while Ashley Sanders takes the Six Pack.