White Sox lose for 15th time after leading in seventh inning

A strong start from pitcher Chris Flexen was wasted in the Astros’ 5-3 win.

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White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, left, talks to Andrew Vaughn and Danny Mendick during a pitching change

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, left, talks to Andrew Vaughn and Danny Mendick during a pitching change in the seventh inning against the Astros on Thursday.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Chris Flexen’s good start went for naught.

The White Sox’ bullpen — and infield — dropped the ball.

And when the Thursday afternoon rubber game of a three-game series with the Astros was over, the Sox found themselves with a 5-3 loss, the 15th time they’ve fallen after leading in the seventh inning.

So much for winning a series for the first time since May 14-15 against the Nationals. The Sox have lost 10 series in a row.

On deck: White Sox at Tigers

  • Friday: Erick Fedde (5-1, 3.09 ERA) vs. Jack Flaherty (4-4, 3.01), 5:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM
  • Saturday: Drew Thorpe (0-1, 8.64) vs. Kenta Maeda (2-3, 6.02), 12:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM
  • Sunday: Jonathan Cannon (1-1, 3.34) vs. Reese Olson (1-8, 3.39), 12:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM

“We let one get away from us,” manager Pedro Grifol said.

So it goes for the Sox, who fell to a major-league-worst 20-56 despite six innings of one-run ball from Flexen and RBI from Luis Robert Jr. (double), Andrew Vaughn (single) and Andrew Benintendi (sacrifice fly) against Spencer Arrighetti in the fifth inning.

Sox starting pitchers have a 3.01 ERA in the last 13 games. Their relievers are 2-10 with a 6.95 ERA in the last 24.

The Astros (35-40) scored four in the seventh against Steven Wilson and Tanner Banks, who combined to throw 19 strikes on 22 pitches but allowed four hits. Third baseman Lenyn Sosa’s throwing error eluded an outstretched Vaughn at first base, and second baseman Danny Mendick’s bounced return throw on a possible double play eluded Vaughn’s glove, adding to the woes of a four-run inning.

Robert dropped a routine fly in the first inning that didn’t figure in the scoring.

“No excuse,” Robert said. “I was just overconfident on that, and I missed the ball.

“It’s always difficult, no matter how you lose a game. But I also know that all of us are trying to do our best. We haven’t been able to find that consistency.”

UnColas

Squeezed out of playing time by the return from the injured list of Benintendi, Oscar Colas hasn’t started in a week and could be ticketed for a return to Triple-A Charlotte when designated hitter Eloy Jimenez (hamstring strain) is expected to return from the injured list next week.

Colas is 9-for-25 with two walks in his last nine games. His approach has been more disciplined, but he has no extra-base hits.

“He works extremely hard; he’s doing everything he can to stay sharp,” Grifol said. “He can’t do this long-term. If an opportunity doesn’t present itself in the near future, then obviously it’s more beneficial for him to go get at-bats.”

Surging Sergio Santos

Former Sox closer Sergio Santos, who’s managing the Birmingham Barons to first place in the Southern League, is among three up-and-coming managerial candidates in the Sox’ farm system. Triple-A manager Justin Jirschele and Low-A Kannapolis’ Patrick Leyland (Jim Leyland’s son) are also well-regarded by Sox decision-makers.

A converted shortstop who pitched for the Sox from 2009 to 2011, Santos is in his first year at Double-A after managing the Yankees’ High-A Hudson Valley team in 2023.

“As a player, it never worked when you were worried about what’s next,” Santos said on a conference call Thursday. “So I really focus on trying to be where my feet are.

“I know if I do a good job here, all that other stuff will take care of itself. I take pride in knowing my team, having really good relationships with my team, even just outside of baseball. Getting to know the person.”

Hill to Yankees

Left-hander Tim Hill signed a major-league contract with the Yankees two days after being released by the Sox, for whom he had a 5.87 ERA after signing a $1.8 million deal in the offseason.

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