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White Sox, Shields blank Cubs for fourth win in row

Dioner Navarro and Adam Eaton celebrate the White Sox' win over the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field on July 26, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago White Sox won 3-0. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

James Shields almost got together again with Joe Maddon when he was a free agent during the spring of 2015, but signed with San Diego Padres instead of the Cubs.

Maddon probably wished it had happened Tuesday night.

Shields pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings of four-hit ball, and Adam Eaton connected for his seventh homer of the season to power the suddenly streaking White Sox to a 3-0 victory over Maddon’s Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field.

The victory, the Sox’ second in as many nights before a second sellout crowd against their crosstown rival and fourth in a row, raised their record to 50-50. It was the first time the Cubs were shut out since May 31. The interleague city series shifts to Wrigley Field Wednesday and Thursday.

Shields worked around four walks while striking out four to win for the first time since beating the Yankees July 4, halting a streak of three straight losses despite his effective performances.

“He’s Big Game James,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This was another one that we needed and he came through for us.”

Shields, who threw a season-high 117 pitches, has allowed two runs in each of his last six starts after giving up three runs in five innings at Fenway Park on June 23, a start that began his process of getting back on track after a disastrous start with the Sox. Shields allowed 22 over 8 2/3 innings in his first three starts after the Sox acquired him in a trade with the San Diego Padres. He received a standing ovation when Ventura pulled him in the eighth, quite the contrast to when he was booed off the field after his Sox debut June 8.

“Just attacking hitters and trying to get ahead in the count,’’ said Shields, who made 217 starts for Maddon when they were together with the Tampa Bay Rays. “That’s a good team over there. They work the count and Joe has them locked in as far as seeing pitches and getting one they want to hit. You have to be careful with them.’’

“He was good,” Maddon said. “I thought we were in good shape, after the third inning. We had seen 56 pitches. And then he got a really quick fourth and that put him back into a little bit of a rhythm. He righted himself.

“On the other side I thought [Cubs starter] Kyle [Hendricks] was outstanding. We pitched really well too. They just outpitched us today.”

Nate Jones recorded the final out of the eighth inning, and closer David Robertson — who gave up three homers against the Tigers in his last outing against the Tigers Sunday, pitched a perfect ninth for the Sox for his 24th save.

<em>The White Sox pose with the Crosstown Classic Cup after retaining it with a 3-0 win over the Cubs Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)</em>
The White Sox pose with the Crosstown Classic Cup after retaining it with a 3-0 win over the Cubs Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Sox, wearing their 1983 throwback uniforms in every game of their current winning streak, jumped to a 1-0 lead against Hendricks (9-7, 2.39 ERA) in the first inning on Jose Abreu’s RBI single, scoring Eaton (walk) from second and snapping Hendricks’ 19 2/3 inning scoreless streak. Eaton homered in the fifth, and the Sox pushed across a third run in the seventh when Cubs left-hander Travis Wood walked J.B. Shuck, Dioner Navarro and Tyler Saladino in succession. Saladino was the hero in the Sox’ 5-4 with a walk-off RBI single in the ninth inning.

The Sox are 4-0 since Chris Sale was sent home before his scheduled start Saturday for tearing up the Sox’ 1976 throwback uniforms they were supposed to wear that night. They wore the 1983s instead, and haven’t stopped due to the winning streak.

“Can’t wear them tomorrow [as visitors at Wrigley Field],’’ Ventura said. “If we could, we would. But we can’t, so we won’t.’’

“Maybe the jerseys,” Todd Frazier said. “I think we’re coming together a little bit and having some more fun and trying to bring back that first month we had.”

The Cubs tried to get creative with finances and payroll to make what finally became a three-year, $60 million deal backloaded and with deferrals work to sign Shields during the spring of 2015. He signed with the Padres, near his hometown, for four years instead and was traded to the Sox on June 5.

<em>James Shields acknowledges the crowd during the eighth inning Tuesday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)</em>
James Shields acknowledges the crowd during the eighth inning Tuesday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)