Cubs deal White Sox ‘toughest loss of year’

Mike Clevinger pitched seven scoreless innings and Gavin Sheets homered for the South Siders, but the Cubs walked them off.

SHARE Cubs deal White Sox ‘toughest loss of year’
Gregory Santos walks off the field after the Cubs’ Christopher Morel hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday.

Gregory Santos walks off the field after the Cubs’ Christopher Morel hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

So much for a double dose of spoiler fun.

Poised for a two-game-series sweep against the Cubs on Wednesday at Wrigley Field behind Mike Clevinger’s seven innings of scoreless, three-hit ball in his best start of the season, the Sox suffered a walk-off, 4-3 loss on Christopher Morel’s three-run homer in the ninth.

“It’s a tough loss,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “The toughest loss of the year in my opinion.”

Gavin Sheets hit his first homer since June 16 and Andrew Benintendi had two hits, including his 27th double, and made a diving catch in left field to keep Clevinger’s pitching line clean, but the Sox saw their six-game winning streak at Wrigley snapped and lost the season series 3-1.

The Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, but Michael Fulmer struck out Tuesday hero Luis Robert Jr., Yoan Moncada and Andrew Vaughn with the infield playing back.

“We had a chance to tack on there,” Grifol said. “They were giving us a couple runs. I’m sure if you ask them, they’ll tell you they have to put the ball in play.”

Closer Santos goes 1-for-2 in series

Gregory Santos, who needed only 16 pitches to record a five-out save against the Cubs on Tuesday, wasn’t as fortunate Wednesday, serving up a double to Cody Bellinger, walking Dansby Swanson and serving up Morel’s homer in the ninth.

“I was ahead in the count and threw a good pitch,” Santos said through translator Billy Russo. “He didn’t swing at it. It’s like, ‘Well, let’s attack him again.’ It was a sinker, and he hit it.”

Santos, who did not record an out, possesses 100-mph velocity but regretted not throwing his slider.

“Yes, of course, because that’s my best pitch,” he said. “I was trying to be fancy, and that’s what happened.”

Santos is embracing his closer’s role and doing what he can to have the job in 2023.

“I like the adrenaline. I like to pitch late in the game,” he said.

Santos, who turns 24 on Aug. 28, was acquired from the Giants in the offseason for pitching prospect Kade McClure with five major-league games on his record. He has harnessed his velocity and sharp slider for a 3.00 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 13 walks in 57 innings.

Oft-hurt Jimenez out again

Fighting a constant battle with aches, pains and injuries this season and throughout his career, Eloy Jimenez was sidelined again Wednesday.

Jimenez felt tightness in his groin in the Sox’ 5-3 win over the Cubs on Tuesday while running out a tapper to pitcher Kyle Hendricks. He finished the game but was obviously frustrated, slamming his helmet in the dugout after grounding out later in the game.

The ball was hit in the hole, but Jimenez didn’t run hard and was easily thrown out.

“His groin got a little tight,” Grifol said. “So he’ll be day-to-day.”

The Sox are off Thursday and open a weekend series at the Rockies on Friday.

“We’ll see what he feels like on Friday,” Grifol said.

Jimenez has played in 84 of the Sox’ 121 games. He also was sidelined with a strained hamstring in April, groin tightness in mid-July and a sore heel earlier this month. He missed three weeks in May after undergoing an appendectomy.

Jimenez is batting .356/.433/.780 with six homers in 19 career games against the Cubs, who traded him from their farm system in 2017.

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