White Sox use long ball to turn back Reds

Elvis Andrus’ three-run shot in the fifth inning and Luis Robert Jr.’s two-run blast in the sixth carried the Sox to a 5-4 win, their fourth victory in five games after a dreadful 10-game losing streak.

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Elvis Andrus hit his first homer of the season. (AP)

Chicago White Sox’s Elvis Andrus fist-pumps as he runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Friday, May 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

AP Photos

CINCINNATI — On nights like Friday, the White Sox’ major-league-worst chase rate is rendered moot.

Multi-run homers such as Elvis Andrus’ three-run shot in the fifth inning and Luis Robert Jr.’s two-run blast in the sixth will do that. They carried the Sox to a 5-4 win over the Reds, their fourth victory in five games after a dreadful 10-game losing streak.

“It doesn’t negate the chasing because we have to keep working to reduce our chases,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “But when you’re hitting home runs and putting crooked numbers on the board, that replaces a lot of stuff.”

Lance Lynn pitched 6‰ innings of four-run ball, finishing strong after Jonathan India’s go-ahead homer in the fifth. After his homer gave the Sox the lead again the next inning, Robert doubled off Jake Fraley from first after Reynaldo Lopez walked Fraley leading off the ninth. Lopez capped the win by striking out Nick Senzel.

“A big-time performance by Lynn, and a big-time win for us,” Grifol said.

Lynn struck out eight and walked none.

“He gave us 103 pitches, and for the 67th time since 2019, he’s gone over 100 pitches,” Grifol said. “That’s the most in baseball, and there is something to be said for that. He understood the urgency and magnitude of this game for us.”

Lynn (1-4, 6.86 ERA) has now topped 100 pitches in four straight starts, showing signs of regaining his form in his last two.

“I was told a long time ago [that] if you don’t throw, it’s like a day off,” he said.

The Sox’ 33.2% chase rate — swings at pitches outside the strike zone divided by pitches outside the zone — is an ongoing topic of discussion and, as Grifol said, must be improved significantly.

“Hitting always comes down to selectivity, shrinking the strike zone and hitting the pitches you can really do damage with,” Grifol said. “That’s pretty hard to do. When you have guys throwing strike-to-ball pitches with incredible numbers, it all boils down to being selective, shrinking the strike zone, getting a good pitch to hit. And the guys that are consistent doing that are going to hit a lot. The guys who are not consistent right now are the guys who have to get to work and shrink that zone.”

As Grifol noted, everyone in the majors has had success and has “a pretty good swing.” It then comes down to what hitting great Ted Williams, who authored “The Science of Hitting,” said was the basic key to it all: getting a good pitch.

It’s not as easy as it might look, Grifol said. And it’s obviously not easy for the team that’s the worst in the majors at it.

“It’s tough to hit in this league, and it’s tough to hit [in high-leverage, late-inning] parts of the game,” Grifol said. “Guys are coming in with plus-plus stuff.”

The Sox were 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position in their 7-3 loss to the Twins in 12 innings Thursday, which ended their season-high three-game winning streak.

“The previous day, they had the bases loaded with [Byron] Buxton and [Carlos] Correa up, and we were able to get out of that,” Grifol said. “So it’s just baseball.

“I believe at the end of this thing, we’ll be good at it, right where we need to be.”

Andrus clubbed a good-to-hit pitch from Hunter Greene for his homer in the fifth, erasing a 3-0 lead against Lynn that the Reds built on an RBI double by TJ Friedl in the third and a pair of RBI singles by Fraley and Senzel in a four-hit fourth. India put the Reds back on top the next inning.

Robert’s homer in the sixth came on a 100 mph fastball from Greene (0-2).

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