CLEVELAND — A day after giving up 21 runs and 25 hits to the Astros, the White Sox struck out 14 times Friday against Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie.
Posting monster numbers such as those is a scary-bad way to try to win a division.
McKenzie gave up two runs in the first inning of the first game of an important three-game series between the American League Central-leading Guardians and the Sox. Then he went on a strikeout rampage, racking up a career-high 14 with no walks in seven innings.
After McKenzie’s final pitch, the young Guardians (64-55) sent 10 pesky hitters to the plate in a four-run seventh on their way to a 5-2 victory, dropping the Sox 3½ games off the pace in the division race. Reynaldo Lopez (5-3) gave up three runs, allowing a double to Luke Maile, a tying triple to Steven Kwan and a go-ahead single to Amed Rosario before Jake Diekman walked two and gave up a two-run single to Andres Gimenez.
The Sox (61-59), who lost their third game in a row, scored twice against McKenzie in the first but didn’t tack on, with Yasmani Grandal rapping into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners.
In the fifth, Josh Harrison led off with a double and took third on a wild pitch, but Seby Zavala, AJ Pollock and Andrew Vaughn struck out.
‘‘Those are big misses,’’ manager Tony La Russa said. ‘‘Give the pitcher credit. But when you don’t add on, it comes back to haunt you.’’
McKenzie (9-9, 3.11 ERA) joined Nolan Ryan (15 strikeouts in 1990) and Pedro Martinez (15 in 2000) as the only pitchers to record 14 or more whiffs with no walks in a game against the Sox.
Right-hander Lance Lynn allowed one run — on a home run to Jose Ramirez in the sixth — and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings.
The Sox fell to 14-24 in series openers and are 5-9 against the Guardians.
Blood and guts
Vaughn was hit in the face by a pitch from Guardians reliever Trevor Stephan in the eighth. The pitch caromed off Vaughn’s shoulder and bloodied his lip, but he took first base and stayed in the game. Gavin Sheets took Vaughn’s place in right field in the bottom of the inning.
‘‘I feel fine, honestly,’’ Vaughn said. ‘‘If it didn’t hit the shoulder, we wouldn’t be talking right now. I feel lucky.’’
Jimenez exits during at-bat
Eloy Jimenez left the game after twisting his right knee on a swing-and-miss on the first pitch he saw in the eighth.
‘‘It looks like right now trainer [James] Kruk is optimistic it’s something that he can deal with,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘I don’t know if he’ll play [Saturday].’’
Intentional walk on 1-2
La Russa had Diekman walk Oscar Gonzalez intentionally to load the bases in the seventh, the second time he called for a walk with a 1-2 count this season. Jimmy Lambert then got pinch hitter Owen Miller to fly out to end the inning.
‘‘Did we get the guy out?’’ La Russa said. ‘‘Yeah, so it worked.’’
Robert still out
Center fielder Luis Robert missed his seventh consecutive start with a sore left wrist. He didn’t look completely comfortable swinging during batting practice, taking his hand off the bat on some swings.