Lucas Giolito seemed to figure out whatever it was that caused that eight-run disaster in Boston in his previous start.
He showed no effects Tuesday night from a cut on his middle finger after an unfortunate encounter last Monday in Cleveland with a twist-off cap on a glass bottle that pushed his turn back a couple of days.
And then, after pitching six innings of one-run ball, it all caved in during the seventh inning of a 5-2 loss to the Tigers that snapped the Sox’ four-game winning streak at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I didn’t have much left in the tank,” Giolito said.
“If it’s my job to go out there and get outs, I have to get them. It’s on me. I have to make better pitches. The seventh is my inning. I have to get the job done, and I didn’t. It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling.”
Protecting a 2-1 lead, Giolito walked Willi Castro to lead off, then allowed Wilson Ramos’ RBI double and Niko Goodrum’s two-run homer.
With right-hander Codi Heuer warming and ready in the bullpen, manager Tony La Russa allowed a well-rested Giolito to get his pitch count to 114, letting his ace work after mound visits from catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitching coach Ethan Katz.
“I’ll replay the inning and watch it on video,” La Russa said. “Maybe the leadoff walk should have alerted me, but he got two outs after that. He’s facing a guy he got out all night. But he’s a very honest guy. If he felt like he didn’t have much left, that’s tough for me to recognize because he’s not pulling himself out of that game.”
Try as they might, the last-place Tigers of the American League Central, who had lost 10 of 11 games, did what they could to supply Giolito with run support, making five infield errors behind starter Jose Urena in the first five innings, but the Sox hit into four double plays — in the third (Grandal), fourth (Leury Garcia), fifth (Jose Abreu) and sixth innings (Grandal again) — and were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
“I don’t blame anyone for focusing on one inning, but where was the game lost?” La Russa said. “It was lost because we didn’t add runs. Our offense has been very productive, but it was one of those nights when we didn’t come through.
“The position players aren’t very happy right now.”
“We should have been up six, seven, eight runs,” Adam Eaton said.
The lacking offense left Giolito in a tight battle, and with the game on the line, La Russa was confident he could protect the lead. When he failed, Giolito appeared to be fuming, taking long strides to the dugout and winding up to throw his glove in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.
“I was confident he could get the third out,” La Russa said. “It was his inning, and it didn’t turn out.”
Told that Giolito said he didn’t have much in the tank, La Russa said, “Is that what he said? Then it’s my fault for not recognizing.”
Giolito worked 6⅔ innings, allowing five hits, four earned runs and three walks and striking out seven. Miguel Cabrera also homered.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario made two errors, the first one allowing Tim Anderson to score on a throw from first baseman Jonathan Schoop after Urena threw to first to check Eaton in the first inning.
The Sox brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the eighth against Jose Cisnero, but Billy Hamilton and Garcia struck out. La Russa had Zack Collins and Andrew Vaughn available to pinch hit.
“At that point, you’re looking for a single,” La Russa said. “I’m confident that Billy can do that. And I’m confident that Leury can do that. Make seven outs, you hit .300. You don’t always get hits. It was a tough offensive day for our team.”
In the seventh and the Sox trailing by two runs, Tim Anderson was thrown out trying to steal second with no outs.
The Sox had won nine consecutive games against the Tigers and eight in a row at home and had outscored them 69-23 during the nine-game streak, their longest in the series since 2001.
Schoop’s homer in the eighth off Matt Foster gave the Tigers the three-run lead.