White Sox drop series to Rangers, fall to 32-44

Andrew Vaughn hits solo homer; Michael Kopech lasts four innings vs. Rangers.

SHARE White Sox drop series to Rangers, fall to 32-44
White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. can’t catch a home run by Texas Rangers’ Ezequiel Duran during the fourth inning Wednesday.

White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. can’t catch a home run by Texas Rangers’ Ezequiel Duran during the fourth inning Wednesday.

Quinn Harris/AP

A win here and a win there just won’t do it. A series here and a series there would be more like it.

The White Sox (32-44) need to accumulate victories at a healthy rate to improve their shoddy record after losing the rubber game of their series 6-3 to the Rangers (46-28) on Wednesday night.

As bad as things look, they still trailed the first place Twins (37-38) in the American League Central by 5½ games.

“Very strange,” said first baseman Andrew Vaughn, who hit a solo homer in the sixth. “The Central is there for the taking for us.”

If only the Sox would play like they want to take it. They need to get hot. And don’t tell manager Pedro Grifol they simply need to win series.

“Because winning a series means you conceded a game somewhere,” he said.

The Sox had a chance to sweep the Yankees in New York two weeks ago but settled for two out of three. They had a chance to win a series against the Rangers but lost it.

And winning series isn’t even “the mentality I want us to have as a team,” Grifol said. “I want to win every ballgame. If it happens that we win a series or it happens that we sweep a team, then so be it.”

With Michael Kopech (3-6) lasting four innings and 86 pitches and exiting with a 3-1 deficit after hanging a slider to Ezequiel Duran for a two-run homer in the fourth, and then right-hander Jimmy Lambert allowing a three-run homer to Jonah Heim in the fifth, the Sox’ chances of taking two out of three dwindled.

Grifol decided to pull Kopech early.

“He had to work hard and I decided it was one of those games I would give him a break instead of running him up to 100, 105 [pitches],” Grifol said.

“There’s a bigger thought process to the season and I can appreciate what he had to say, keeping me rested and everything,” Kopech said. “As a competitor I wanted it, as a part of this team I knew I didn’t have it. I understood the move. Just need to be better.”

Kopech entered with a 1.72 ERA over his last five starts but he has pitched more than five innings only once during that stretch.

“I feel alright; frankly I’m a little embarrassed by how I’m pitching,” Kopech said. “I know what this team needs. To not be getting more than five innings is embarrassing to say the least.”

Luis Robert Jr. sprinted home from first on an Eloy Jimenez double in the first against lefty Martin Perez, Vaughn homered leading off the sixth and Seby Zavala scored Clint Frazier with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Grifol likes what he sees of his hitters of late but it hasn’t been enough. Vaughn’s homer was the team’s 13th in their last 16 games, but 30 of their last 41 homers were solo shots.

“We’re trying to hit the ball in the air and we’re doing a better job of that,” Grifol said. “We’re hitting some homers. We’re just not hitting homers with men on base.’’

Right-hander Touki Toussaint, who had pitched for the Guardians’ Triple-A club this season, tossed four innings of scoreless no-hit relief. He struck out four and walked two.

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