Joe Kelly’s struggles, Tim Anderson’s gaffe doom White Sox in loss to Marlins

The Sox’ pitching staff bent and bent and bent through eight innings of a 5-1 loss Saturday. Eventually, three outs away from what would have been the team’s seventh victory in eight games, it broke.

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Miami Marlins v Chicago White Sox

Tim Anderson hangs his head after committing an error that led to the tying run scoring in the ninth inning Saturday.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The White Sox’ pitching staff bent and bent and bent through the first eight innings of a 5-1 loss Saturday to the Marlins.

Eventually, three outs away from what would have been the Sox’ seventh victory in their last eight games, the bullpen broke.

Michael Kopech, Gregory Santos and Reynaldo Lopez combined to hold the Marlins scoreless for 24 outs but lived on the precipice of peril in the process. Kopech allowed at least one runner in scoring position in each of his five innings, then Santos and Lopez escaped similar jams in the sixth and seventh. At that juncture, the Marlins were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

On a day when Liam Hendriks and Kendall Graveman were unavailable for workload reasons, Joe Kelly got the ninth.

The Marlins scored five runs to erase the Sox’ 1-0 lead.

Singles by pinch hitter Garrett Cooper and Luis Arraez and a walk to Jorge Soler loaded the bases with nobody out. Then shortstop Tim Anderson fumbled a slow grounder to short that could have forced the tying run out at the plate but instead resulted in an error that made it 1-1.

‘‘I think I just tried to rush the throw,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘I knew they had a fast runner at third. I just really tried to rush it. I just [bleeped] it up. That’s really what it was.’’

Anderson executed a similar play to perfection during the Sox’ 2-1 victory Friday, keeping the score tied 1-1 in the sixth. Manager Pedro Grifol called it the play of the game.

But this is far from the first time Anderson’s defense has come under scrutiny.

‘‘Last night don’t matter,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘Nobody cares about last night. I think it’s about, ‘What have you done lately?’ And we seen what I just did.’’

Said Grifol when asked whether Anderson’s defense is a byproduct of the mental side of the game: ‘‘I don’t think so. He made a great play last night that saved the game, and that was a tag play.

‘‘Timmy has been doing this a long time. He is good at what he does. He works. It’s the way the game is. Get back after it tomorrow.’’

Kelly further unraveled from there, walking in a second run, then conceding a third on a chopper that Anderson took to third base instead of attempting an off-balance throw home. After Kelly exited to scattered boos, Garrett Crochet entered and yielded a booming two-run double to Jean Segura, which blew the game open.

All five runs were charged to Kelly, although only two registered as earned.

‘‘They were good at-bats,’’ Kelly said of the Marlins’ approach. ‘‘The pinch hitter . . . got him 0-2, got a good hit. Arraez is Arraez, got a hit away. And the other guys started battling. They weren’t swinging at anything out of the [strike] zone.’’

The Sox’ bullpen had been a boon during their recent surge, entering play Saturday with the fourth-best reliever ERA (2.81) in the majors since the start of May and a 0.78 mark in June.

In some ways, it was their undoing Saturday. But this game was a failure in all three phases: Kelly, for his control; Anderson, for his defense; and the offense, for producing only one run on a solo home run by Andrew Vaughn.

If the Sox can win the series finale Sunday, the last 10 games will be remembered as positive ahead of a grueling West Coast trip that begins Tuesday against the Dodgers. But because of the hole they dug themselves out of the gate, they sit 29-37, even with a 6-2 start to June.

‘‘I don’t think we’re in a bad place,’’ Kopech said. ‘‘We’ve made a lot of good strides as a team, and we continue making those strides. It sucks to lose every time, but overall we’re playing better, we’re fighting harder. And if we can continue that, I think we’ll get where we need to be.’’

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