White Sox break scoreless tie with 4 runs in 9th, avoid series sweep against Indians

Lucas Giolito pitched six scoreless innings, and the Indians’ bullpen collapsed.

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The White Sox’ Lucas Giolito pitches against the Indians’ Cesar Hernandez during the first inning of Wednesday’s game in Cleveland.

The White Sox’ Lucas Giolito pitches against the Indians’ Cesar Hernandez during the first inning of Wednesday’s game in Cleveland.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

CLEVELAND — Lucas Giolito gave the White Sox what they desperately needed.

The Sox’ stymied offense did, too, but not until the ninth inning.

Four runs were worth the wait.

Giolito pitched six innings of scoreless, four-hit ball, and Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jimenez each delivered a sacrifice fly before Luis Robert drove in two more runs with a single in the ninth against left-hander Brad Hand to give the Sox a 4-0 victory Wednesday night at Progressive Field.

The Sox were staring at a three-game series sweep and a 1-5 start, and Indians right-hander Zach Plesac had everything going to make that happen with a dominant eight innings. But Giolito bounced back from a poor first start to keep the Sox alive in a brilliant pitcher’s duel.

Being that guy to take the ball in games like these is more than fine with Giolito. In fact, he embraces it.

“It’s less about feeling the pressure of ‘I need to do this, I have to do this,’ ” Giolito said, “and more like ‘I get to do this.’ For me, after the year I had last year, I knew I put myself in position where when I take the ball, it’s going to be in these types of games, these must-win games.

“It’s all about embracing the moment and taking the ball with a lot of confidence.”

Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer and closer Alex Colome took the ball from Giolito and each contributed a scoreless inning of relief — although the Indians loaded the bases against Colome in a 31-pitch ninth — to send the Sox (2-4) into a weekend road series against the Royals with “momentum,” as Giolito put it.

In a 60-game season already at the one-tenth marker, “it was a must-win game for us as a team,” Giolito said.

“We weren’t going to come out tonight and put pressure on ourselves and look at our record. But our first round of starting pitching did not go well, so it was time for us to make the adjustments we needed and go out there and have a good one.”

Pitching almost exclusively with a four-seam fastball and changeup, Giolito kept the Indians off balance by mixing pitches and elevating the fastball with a deceptive change of pace. Of his 85 pitches, he threw 41 fastballs, 40 changeups, three sliders and one curveball.

He got Ervin Santana in two sticky situations. One in the fourth, with an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play started by first baseman Jose Abreu with runners at the corners. And on a fly ball to center with the bases loaded to end the sixth.

It was a needed about-face for the 2019 All-Star who got the Sox’ season off to a perilous start by allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 10-5 loss to the Twins. Dallas Keuchel was sharp the next day, but the Sox have had nothing but poor starts since then.

Until Wednesday. Giolito, who had two scoreless starts against the Indians last season, ran his scoreless streak against them to 20 2/3 innings.

“Credit to Plesac on the other side, he was dealing,” Giolito said. “I knew I had to go out and put up zeroes. Those types of games are the most fun, man.”

As good as Giolito was, Plesac, the Crown Point (Indiana) High School product, was even better, hurling eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball with a career-high 11 strikeouts and no walks. It marked the sixth time in as many games that Indians starters pitched six or more innings while allowing two or fewer runs, and they did it with six pitchers.

Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (2-for-4) started the ninth-inning rally with a double to left-center field. Yoan Moncada walked, and Hand hit Abreu on the foot to load the bases before Grandal came through to break the scoreless tie.

“We definitely needed that one,” Anderson said.

“For Gio to bounce back after that first one, he’s our No. 1 guy, he was strong and he kept us in the ballgame.”

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