PHOENIX — For three innings Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, Jose Quintana looked like an All-Star.
But in the fourth and fifth he looked like a wreck.
The White Sox left-hander, who lasted only 4⅓ innings, was pounded for eight runs on eight hits in a 8-6 loss that completed a three-game series sweep.
Quintana retired the first 10 hitters, half of them on strikeouts.
And then the D-backs went on an 8-for-10 tear. A couple of the hits were soft, and there were no walks, but Quintana couldn’t make it stop, and couldn’t get through the six-run fifth inning.
“I think the ball ran to the middle a couple of times,’’ Quintana said. “That’s the reason they hit me hard.’’
The damage came when Quintana was in the stretch position. Getting better from the stretch is something Quintana knows he needs to improve. He certainly works slower then.
“I keep working on that,’’ he said. “It was a tough game for me.’’
It had to be tough on general manager Rick Hahn as well, knowing the lofty trade value of Quintana — a prized commodity in the Sox’ rebuilding scheme — isn’t climbing with this kind of performance, although there had been signs of the 2016 All-Star turning things around after an 0-4, 6.17 ERA start in his first four outings.
Quintana (2-6) saw his ERA climb from 3.92 to 4.82. He was coming off his best outing, a one-hit performance in eight innings in Seattle and was 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA in his previous five starts before Wednesday.
A poster child for consistency and excellence his first five seasons, Quintana has been anything but dependable over his first 10 starts.
“For us it’s a tough thing to figure, because he has been so great in his career,’’ said Jose Abreu, who went 4-for-5 with a two-run home run. “A good game, and then have a good stretch in a game and have a bad game, it’s something that we are not accustomed to seeing from him.
“But he’s a hard worker and we all know how talented he is and we’re all confident in him,’’ Abreu said. ‘‘I think it’s just a matter of one thing for him to clean it up and to be that Jose Quintana that we know.’’
Quintana, who has been plagued by poor run support throughout his career, was staked to a 2-0 lead by Leury Garcia’s sixth homer and Abreu’s double and run scored (on Avisail Garcia’s double play) before the Diamondbacks tied it in the fourth on doubles by Nick Ahmed and Paul Goldschmidt and an RBI single by Chris Owings.
In the sixth, Quintana hit leadoff batter Brandon Drury on the hand with an 0-2 pitch before Lamb’s homer, and then the hits just kept on coming.
“Maybe a lot of things,’’ rookie catcher Kevan Smith said. ‘This team can swing the bat — they’re aggressive. You can’t leave pitches up in the zone or in the middle of the plate.’’
Smith said Quintana took advantage of the Diamondbacks’ aggressiveness when he pitched down in the zone.
“And things kind of have a domino effect a little,’’ Smith said. “One after another, maybe not pitching in the best situations, getting in holes a little . . . we’re trying to throw sinkers away to righties and they’re cutting back over. Those are things for him to iron out with [pitching coach Don Cooper].’’
Trailing 8-2, the Sox scored two runs in the sixth and seventh innings, and Quintana was still there in the dugout, “high-fiving teammates and keeping the energy up,’’ Smith said.
Abreu (three RBI) hit his 10th homer in the sixth with Melky Cabrera on first. Abreu came up with the tying run in the ninth but grounded out against Fernando Rodney.
The Sox (20-25) finished the road trip 3-7.
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