A switch flipped for the White Sox the last time they got beat, Lucas Giolito said.
It was the 6-5 loss Sunday to the Angels, when the Sox scored five runs in the ninth but came up short.
“That last inning was the turning point where we collectively as a group were like ‘enough of this, we can play much better baseball. We know how to string hits together, we know how to play clean defense,’ “ Giolito said after striking out 10 in 5⅔ innings in a 4-3 victory against the Cubs on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field. “Even though we lost that game, since then just higher energy and being in the moment, highly focused on execution. Keep it rolling from there.”
The Sox beat the Angels behind Dylan Cease’s pitching gem Monday, won 3-1 in dreadful weather Tuesday and completed a short but sweet two-game sweep over the Cubs for their third win in a row.
They got a pair of basket home runs from Jose Abreu and Leury Garcia, two hits including a double and a brave catch against the center-field wall by Luis Robert, good outfield play in the gap by right fielder Adam Engel holding Patrick Wisdom to a leadoff single in the eighth and flawless late relief pitching from Kendall Graveman, Matt Foster and Liam Hendriks to improve to 11-13.
That’s no pretty record, but after an abysmal April, it looks OK in early May.
“Huge team win,” Giolito said. “Contributions from everybody in the lineup. Bullpen picking me up. That’s the kind of win that makes us feel good. Just an unbelievable effort from everybody. We’re trending in the right direction.”
Perhaps the energy from the crosstown series gave them a bump. Not that the crowd of Cubs and Sox fans needed it, but Tim Anderson’s towel waving from the Sox dugout kept fans revved up. They were on their feet for most of the noisy eighth inning.
“The crowd in the eighth inning — ooh,” Garcia said. “So loud.”
“I couldn’t even hear my PitchCom,” Foster said. “I kept leaning down trying to make sure I could hear it, but nothing was coming through.”
Giolito’s 10 strikeouts were a season-high. Two of the three hits he allowed were home runs by Nico Hoerner and Patrick Wisdom in the second, which put the Sox in a 3-1 hole.
Garcia’s homer in the third made it 3-2. Robert, batting fourth for the first time in his career and improving to 14-for-34 against the Cubs, was 2-for-3 with a double. He scored on Gavin Sheets’ single through the left side of the infield in the fourth, the fourth time Sheets has singled through a vacated position in a shift this season. It tied the score at 3.
Another shift-defying single, a two-out bloop by AJ Pollock that landed in short right field beyond the sprawling reach of Cubs second baseman Nick Madrigal in the sixth, gave the Sox a 4-3 lead.
Giolito retired 11 of the last 13 batters he faced, getting lifted with two outs in the sixth after walking Ian Happ on his 101st pitch. With Reynaldo Lopez pitching, Willson Contreras’ drive to deep center field sent Robert crashing his left shoulder into the brick wall after a running catch. Robert was slow to get up but stayed in the game.
With runners on second and third and one out, Foster, in relief of Aaron Bummer, got Seiya Suzuki on a foul pop-up to Sheets and struck out Happ looking at strike three. Foster (0.77 ERA) has allowed one run in eight appearances.
Liam Hendriks pitched a perfect ninth, collecting his second save of the two-game series sweep and ending it by striking out Hoerner.
“We win three in a row, but we’re two under [.500],” manager Tony La Russa said. “Get over .500 by a bunch, and then start getting serious. And we’re getting closer to getting healthy. We’re surviving.”