After that, all hell broke loose.
As far as the two starters went, Lance Lynn outdueled Kyle Hendricks, but not by much. But, then, you don’t need to win duels by much, at least as a general rule.
The Sox drew first blood, getting to Hendricks for two runs in the fourth on fairly cheap singles by Adam Engel (who would end up with three hits, a reverse of his fate from Thursday night), José Abreu and Andrew Vaughn, followed by a rocket single by Seby Zavala.
That threat ended with a bases-loaded K of Lynn, who also struck out with the bases full in the sixth, so no repeat of his win-the-game-yourself heroics in his last NL start. Meanwhile, though, he was celebrating mowing down Cubbies.
True, with Willson Contreras and Patrick Wisdom on the bench, Lynn was facing a lineup of has-beens, wannabes and players having such bad seasons the Cubs couldn’t unload them, but he only gave up four hits in six-plus innings, the last a bunt single by Andrew Romine to lead off the seventh, which led to the only run charged against him, after he was pulled and Michael Kopech came in and issued a walk and two long fly balls — a third straight less-than-ideal outing for Kopech.
Aaron Bummer got the last out of the seventh, and things looked golden for the White Sox when Cubs manager David Ross went brain dead in the top of the eighth and replaced righty Trevor Megill, who was doing just fine, with two K’s and an end-of-the-bat single by Zavala, with lefty Kyle Ryan, to face César Hernández.
Let’s set the scene: Two outs, man on first, pitcher’s spot next, wind blowing out, and switch-hitter Hernández, who has a homer every 38 at-bats against righties and every 11 at-bats against lefties this season, at the plate.
That should have been ballgame, right? Except Craig Kimbrel, in for the eighth to face the team he was with until seven days ago, chose the occasion to have his worst performance ever. Two singles and Romine’s 11th homer in a decade in the majors later, and it was 4-4. Perhaps a little too much adrenaline.
Liam Hendriks finished the inning without further damage and cruised through the ninth — four strikeouts and single, all told. Codi Heuer, not suffering the same ex-team shock as Kimbrel, shut down the Sox in the ninth on a strikeout of Tim Anderson, walk of Engel, and a double play to second by Abreu.
Which brings us to the 10th, and a man on second just for the heck of it, that man in the top half being Abreu. In for the Cubs comes Manny Rodriguez, celebrating his 25th birthday by appearing in his fourth major league game.
Now, you may have had a bad birthday here or there, but unless yours involved serious injury or illness, Rodriguez’s was worse. First batter he faced was Brian Goodwin, who apparently has gotten a taste for late heroics.
As if that wasn’t enough (spoiler: it wasn’t) the Sox added a Duffy error, a Yoán Moncada single (first hit in August) and Gavin Sheets RBI pinch-hit single to chase Rodriguez, after which Tim Anderson made it 1-for-6 on the day and a whopping 8-4 lead.
That surely was enough, right? The crowd definitely thought so, because Wrigley emptied out except for those too drunk to make it to the exits. Only Garrett Crochet did his best Rodriguez imitation, giving up a two-run homer to the first batter he faced, Frank Schwindel, giving Schwindel two on the season. Crochet did a better job of settling down, though — and had the much, much weaker lineup to face — so the Sox escaped with a 8-6 win.
Had it all the way, coach.
Game time tomorrow is 1:20 p.m. Central, with Carlos Rodón taking on Adbert Alzolay.