South Side hit men? Sox pile up 14 more in 11-5 win against Pirates

The Sox lead the majors with eight games of 10 or more hits, and this one was their sixth in as many road games. Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Andrew Benintendi, Andrew Vaughn, Yasmani Grandal and Oscar Colas each had two.

SHARE South Side hit men? Sox pile up 14 more in 11-5 win against Pirates
Chicago White Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates

Andrew Vaughn, who had two hits and two walks and scored four runs, scores on a sacrifice fly to right field by Elvis Andrus in the fifth inning.

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH — Armed with the task of lowering the White Sox’ major-league-worst 7.71 ERA and, even more important, helping the Sox avoid falling to 3-6 to open the season, Mike Clevinger came through on the latter Saturday, the thing that matters most.

The highlight of his pitching?

“My pregame bullpen,” he said with a laugh.

After pitching five scoreless innings against the Astros in his Sox debut, Clevinger failed to provide the type of occasional but elusive sparkling start the Sox’ rotation needs but can’t come up with, allowing four runs, eight hits and two walks and lasting 5⅓ innings.

“It was a battle,” Clevinger said. “Kind of struggling to get the heater to drive straight. I was kind of leaking a little bit. But some really good defense behind me. And lucky to have this offense behind me to make it more comfortable.”

On a night when the Sox’ lineup kept on hitting through the unacceptable pitching, Clevinger’s work was good enough in an 11-5 victory over the Pirates. Six Sox had two hits apiece to mobilize a 14-hit attack against former teammate Vince Velasquez and four relievers. The Sox halted the Pirates’ four-game winning streak, evening their series.

Clevinger (2-0), for one, maintains the pitching will be there before long.

“Oh, yeah, I mean, it’s two starts in [for the starters],” he said. “Two starts. You saw what we did in Houston against a pretty solid lineup there, so there’s no nitpicking about anything now.”

Having allowed 44 runs in the previous four games, four runs permitted by Clevinger felt like a quality start. The Sox’ bullpen, which also has struggled, held Pittsburgh scoreless with Joe Kelly, Aaron Bummer and Kendall Graveman at work before Reynaldo Lopez allowed a two-out homer to Andrew McCutchen in the ninth, ending the bullpen’s bid for its first scoreless group effort.

That offense, though. The Sox lead the majors with eight games of 10 or more hits, and this one was their sixth in as many road games with 10 or more. Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Andrew Benintendi, Andrew Vaughn, Yasmani Grandal and Oscar Colas each had two. Doubles by Anderson, Grandal and Robert were the only extra-base hits. Robert, Grandal, Colas and Elvis Andrus had two RBI each.

Vaughn also walked twice and scored four runs.

“We kept the pressure on,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “We’ve got some depth in our lineup. When the bottom of the order is performing like that and the top of the order has the ability that it has, it will be a handful for anybody.

“The most important thing for me is that we ran the bases really well, shrunk the strike zone. We put the ball in play, and we had six walks. We left the AB for the next guy. We took our walks. Leave it for the next guy.”

Anderson said the offense is doing what it can till the pitching comes around.

“I’m sure it will,” he said.

“It’s been a lot of fun. [The hitters] have come together and make each other better. We do our homework and come up with a plan and stick with it, and it’s been working for us.”

McCutchen’s 70.5 mph soft liner to right against Clevinger in the first inning landed for a double, and he scored on Carlos Santana’s single to put the Sox in an early hole, presenting a “here we go again” scenario. But Colas’ two-out RBI single in the second and a four-run third, started by Anderson’s double and highlighted by Benintendi’s RBI single and Grandal’s two-run single, made it 5-1.

“I like our starting pitching,” Grifol said. “These guys have done it; they’re going to do it again. It’s just one of those stretches, that’s all. Everybody goes through it at one time or another during the year. We just happen to be going through it right now.”

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