Any hope? White Sox show just a glimmer in taking series from mighty Braves

Luis Robert Jr., Jake Burger and Dylan Cease fuel the Sox to an 8-1 victory.

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The White Sox’ Luis Robert Jr. rounds third base after hitting a two-run homer in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

The White Sox’ Luis Robert Jr. rounds third base after hitting a two-run homer in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

ATLANTA — How can you not feel just a little bit encouraged by taking two of three games from the mighty Braves, even if you are the disappointing, underachieving White Sox?

The Sox are feeling just that after completing their second consecutive well-played victory against a team that hadn’t lost a series since May.

The Sox won a series for the first time since June and head to New York to play the Mets with just a little pep in their step after their 8-1 thumping Sunday of the Braves at Truist Park.

Perhaps knowing Eloy Jimenez will miss at least the next several days with a groin injury — or simply knowing the Sox are still a whopping 15 games under .500 with 12 games left before the trade deadline Aug. 1. — tempers the enthusiasm.

They need a significant winning streak fast to at least make the front office think hard about trading off assets, which appeared to be a foregone conclusion for some time and still might be.

‘‘It just shows we can play with anybody, right?’’ manager Pedro Grifol said before boarding the Sox’ charter for New York.

‘‘You look at the schedule right [after] the [All-Star] break, we start in Atlanta and then we go to New York and Minnesota. That’s a tough schedule. But you don’t know what’s going to happen. All you have to do is just strap it on and prepare yourself to go play a game.

‘‘You do know what’s going to happen if you don’t play hard and you don’t prepare: You’re going to get your ass kicked.”

In Grifol’s and the players’ views, kicking butt against a team that has no weaknesses says something.

‘‘That’s huge for us,’’ said third baseman Jake Burger, whose 461-foot home run was his second in two games, both of them victories after an 9-0 stinker Friday.

‘‘It’s baseball; anything can happen,’’ said shortstop Tim Anderson, who reached base his first three times up with two singles and a walk. ‘‘It just says anything can happen and anything is possible.’’

Perhaps. But the Sox are still 8½ games out of first place in a bad division, so they must get hot and stay hot — something they haven’t shown they’re capable of.

Two victories, even against the Braves, only would be a start.

‘‘It’s one of those series that shows what kind of talent we have,’’ right-hander Dylan Cease said.

Put Luis Robert Jr. front and center. He had his fourth career four-hit game, including his 27th homer, and Cease pitched five innings of one-run ball in his homecoming. Andrew Benintendi (three hits), Anderson and Robert combined for nine hits in the top third of the lineup, and the Sox scored four runs in the second inning to grab an early lead.

The bullpen allowed two hits in relief of Cease, a native of Woodstock, Georgia, who had more than 30 family and friends in the stands.

‘‘It was really cool,’’ Cease said. ‘‘I never went to Truist but to Turner Field. But it was nice to pitch in my hometown park.’’

Cease touched 98 mph, citing adrenaline and an eight-day rest for the uptick in velocity.

‘‘They gave me a nice lead, and it was a pretty clean game,’’ he said. ‘‘I would like to have gone deeper than five. I wasn’t super-crisp with my command, but I battled. Everyone behind me picked me up, and we got the series win, which is really all I can ask for.’’

The victory halted a streak of eight no-decisions for Cease.

If it started anything of significance for the Sox, time will tell. But time is running out — quickly.

‘‘It doesn’t surprise me that we come out of here with two wins because these guys are preparing; they’ve worked hard all weekend long,’’ said Grifol, who challenged his team to be more focused at the start of the series. ‘‘Does not surprise me at all.’’

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