The White Sox were breezing along with a one-run lead Wednesday against the Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field behind another stellar performance from Lance Lynn.
And then everything unraveled in a three-run eighth inning in a 6-2 Sox loss shortly after second baseman Nick Madrigal left the game with a hamstring injury.
Left-hander Aaron Bummer, starting a clean eighth inning after Lynn pitched seven innings of one-run ball, got Rowdy Tellez to pop out for the first out. Then he struck out pinch hitter Riley Adams on a pitch in the dirt, but catcher Yasmani Grandal, going to his backhand, couldn’t block it, and the Jays had a baserunner.
Marcus Semien chopped an infield single in front of third baseman Yoan Moncada, Bo Bichette singled to right and slugger Vladimir Guerrero walked to force in the tying run.
“He’s had some buzzard luck,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I saw a [TV] crawler that said ‘Sox bullpen struggles.’ He gets a popout, strikeout and infield single. That’s three outs, so I wouldn’t call that struggling.”
La Russa, who did not have a right-hander warming up, said he stuck with Bummer to face Guerrero because of favorable splits against lefties.
“He’s 100 points better against right-handed hitters,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘He walked him. Buzzard luck is buzzard luck. That’s tough to take.”
The Sox had a chance to escape the inning with a tie when Teoscar Hernandez hit a potential double-play ball to second baseman Danny Mendick, but shortstop Tim Anderson’s return to first sailed over first baseman Jose Abreu. Two runs scored to break the tie, and the Jays added two runs against right-hander Matt Foster in the ninth.
The Sox made four late miscues — the dropped third strike and errors by Anderson, right fielder Adam Eaton on an off-the-mark throw home that allowed a runner to advance and Abreu failing to finish a double play in the ninth, which allowed a run to score — putting an ugly finish on a game featuring a pitching beauty by Lynn.
“It got sloppy at the end,” La Russa said. “There was a lot of rushing. Guys trying for more than was there. Nothing routine about [Anderson’s play]. You stand up to that. We’re accountable.”
Lynn pitched seven innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and no walks and striking out nine. He ranks second in the majors with a 1.23 ERA, the fourth-lowest mark in Sox history after 10 starts and lowest in 102 years (Eddie Cicotte was at 0.84 in 1919 and 1.06 in 1917 and Joe Benz at 1.09 in 1914).
“He is getting sharper and sharper with understanding how to attack hitters,” La Russa said. “He has new ways he comes after hitters. He’s not settling on, ‘Well, I’ve got these three pitches.’ He’s tweaking and maneuvering.”
Lynn allowed a tying solo home run to Randal Grichuk in the second. After Madrigal doubled home Leury Garcia in the fifth to give the Sox a 2-1 lead, Lynn sliced through the 2-3-4 batters in the Jays’ testy lineup, striking out Guerrero looking and Hernandez swinging. Lynn gave an R-rated yell as he walked to the dugout.
“There’s something about the South Side, with my personality, that fits,” said Lynn, acquired in the offseason in a trade for top prospect Dane Dunning. “I’m enjoying it.”
“I’ve never seen him take the mound where he wasn’t just going after hitters,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘His delivery is aggressive. He comes after hitters, and he’s got good stuff. He’s not a comfortable at-bat. He gets it and throws it, stands up in tough situations.”
The Sox almost had a run in the fourth when Andrew Vaughn singled to left with Grandal on second, but left fielder Lourdes Gurriel threw out Grandal at home. The Sox unsuccessfully challenged the out call.
The Sox fell to 37-23, maintaining a four-game lead over the Indians in the American League Central, while the Jays improved to 31-28 in a matchup of playoff contenders.