White Sox bats silenced; Guardians avoid sweep

White Sox righty Dylan Cease pitched 6 1⁄3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits, walking one and striking out three.

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Dylan Cease pitched 6 1⁄3 innings of three-run ball against the Guardians in a White Sox loss.

Dylan Cease pitched 6 1⁄3 innings of three-run ball against the Guardians in a White Sox loss on Thursday.

Erin Hooley/AP

Load the bases with no outs and don’t score.

Botch a grounder playing in with the go-ahead run at third base.

Get caught stealing twice.

Go 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the first four innings, then put nobody in scoring position in the last five.

That’s how the White Sox, with right-hander Dylan Cease having his second straight solid start on the mound, allowed the Guardians to avoid a series sweep Thursday.

It’s a sweep the Sox could have used.

“We need to win games we should win,” catcher Seby Zavala said.

Gabriel Arias drove a 406-foot home run to the opposite field against Cease, shortstop Tim Anderson’s error on a routine grounder allowed the first of two Cleveland runs to score in the seventh and the Sox lost 3-1 to fall to 16-29.

The second run of the inning scored on Cam Gallagher’s RBI single against Gregory Santos that snapped an 0-for-34 streak.

Having won the first two games of the series, and catching a break facing the Guardians without Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor, the Sox were poised to keep a good little thing going the day after proclaiming they were still in the AL Central race. They entered the day trailing the first-place Twins by eight games.

Whether they’re still in it remains open for debate and will be determined in more definitive fashion in the next four series against the Royals, Guardians, Angels and Tigers.

Winning series is mandatory. Sweeping them when possible is, too. The Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the second against rookie lefty Logan Allen, but Hanser Alberto popped out and Zavala and Jake Marisnick struck out.

“A loss is a loss,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “But this loss right here, we had opportunities to do some things here. We had won the previous two games, we had an opportunity to win this third one and that second inning was a nice opportunity to put a crooked number up there and get ahead early with our Opening Day starter on the mound. We didn’t capitalize in that second inning and just kept the game 0-0.”

Allen allowed one run in 5⅓ innings in his fifth major-league start, lowering his ERA to 3.04. Three Guardians relievers limited the Sox to one hit, pinch hitter Yoan Moncada’s ninth-inning single.

Cease pitched 6⅓ innings, allowing three runs, five hits and a walk while striking out three.

“I was doing a good job of pouring in strikes,” Cease said. “I didn’t necessarily have my sharpest stuff, but pounding the zone. Anytime you get the loss, it’s disappointing.”

It was tied 1-1 with Cease pitching in the seventh when Arias doubled Will Brennan to third. The infield moved in to cut off the go-ahead run, and Cease got Brayan Rocchio to hit a chopper directly at Anderson, who would have had a play at home.

“He was in good position, he moved his feet, just one of those plays,” said Grifol, who also noted that Anderson made a nice play in the hole earlier. “I’m sure he’ll make it nine out of 10 times, but today he didn’t.”

And on that day, the Sox got beat.

Winning the series was “great,” Cease said. “But we want to win every game, so a loss is still disappointing.”

The Sox have had enough disappointment in 45 games to fill a season. Their allotment of disappointing losses is drying up fast.

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