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Fulmer struggles early as Sox fall to Cubs

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Carson Fulmer is slated to pitch Wednesday afternoon for the White Sox in Pittsburgh. But after another abbreviated start filled with struggles during the Cubs' 11-2 victory Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Fulmer will need a much stronger performance to keep his spot in the rotation from getting even more tenuous.

Fulmer allowed five runs on three hits and four walks over 1 2/3 innings, getting touched up for a five-spot in the first, primarily courtesy of Willson Contreras' grand slam. Contreras drove in a career-high seven in the victory. Fulmer has made seven starts this season, and he has gone at least six innings only twice. He has worked less than five innings on four occasions, allowing nine earned runs over his past 5 1/3 innings, as well as 10 hits and six walks.

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CHICAGO -- Carson Fulmer is slated to pitch Wednesday afternoon for the White Sox in Pittsburgh. But after another abbreviated start filled with struggles during the Cubs' 11-2 victory Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Fulmer will need a much stronger performance to keep his spot in the rotation from getting even more tenuous.

Fulmer allowed five runs on three hits and four walks over 1 2/3 innings, getting touched up for a five-spot in the first, primarily courtesy of Willson Contreras' grand slam. Contreras drove in a career-high seven in the victory. Fulmer has made seven starts this season, and he has gone at least six innings only twice. He has worked less than five innings on four occasions, allowing nine earned runs over his past 5 1/3 innings, as well as 10 hits and six walks.

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Video: Must C Contreras: Catcher plates 7 to set career-high

"Obviously, it's location," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Fulmer's struggles, leaving his ERA at 6.23. "I think if he does miss in hitting counts right now, they seem to be putting pretty good swings on pitches that may be out over the plate, more center cut at times. We just need to continue to have him work on first-pitch strikes, and then we'll work from there."

"Didn't do my job. Extremely frustrating, very disappointed," Fulmer said. "For our team, this is a big series for us to go out there and win some ballgames, and I take full responsibility of not going out there and doing my job as a starting pitcher, to take your team deep into ballgames. You run into a lineup like that, they'll make you pay if you don't make your pitch. I'll get back to the park tomorrow and figure out what it is that I need to work on, get ready for the next one coming up soon. But definitely frustrated with my performance."

Video: CWS@CHC: Palka hits an RBI double to center

The White Sox lost their sixth straight, fell to 1-10 in their past 11, 0-5 in Interleague action and slipped to 9-26 overall. They scored single runs in the fourth on Daniel Palka's double, one of his two hits, and in the fifth on a single from Jose Abreu, who reached base three times. Abreu's line shot to left brought home pinch-hitter Adam Engel, but Kyle Schwarber threw out Nicky Delmonico at the plate to end the frame.

Video: CWS@CHC: Abreu lines an RBI single to left field

The White Sox never were able to get closer than a four-run deficit after Fulmer's poor first inning. Both Miguel Gonzalez and Carlos Rodon are working their way toward a return to the White Sox rotation, but Fulmer figures to keep his spot until that point. What his role is after those returns will be determined by his future effectiveness and the adjustments he's able to make.

"I want to be a starter, and I am a starter," Fulmer said. "I think that slowing the game down a little bit and not trying to be too perfect, just trust my ability to go out there and throw, throw strikes and pound the zone, which I'm very capable of doing. You take as much as you can out of this outing. I'm very frustrated, but I'll bounce back tomorrow and get ready for the next one coming up soon."

"His confidence level has always been real good," Renteria said. "If you talk to anybody that's ever known him, that's not the question. I think he takes it personally and takes accountability for everything that goes on. He wants to do well like everybody does, but it's about executing."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The White Sox did not take advantage of Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood's walk on the wild side in the third due to a pickoff of Matt Davidson. Chatwood issued free passes to Davidson and Tim Anderson to start the frame, and reliever Hector Santiago was given the job of bunting them over. Santiago missed on the bunt, and Contreras threw to shortstop Addison Russell covering at second to nail Davidson on a close play for the first out of the inning. The White Sox did not score in the frame.

Video: CWS@CHC: Contreras picks off Davidson at second base

"Yeah, I think I got in," Davidson said. "Just not sure if there was a good angle to show it to overturn that. But you know, sometimes it happens."

SOUND SMART
Davidson's two walks gave him 21 in 2018, a single-season career best. He drew only 19 walks all of last year.

HE SAID IT
"We are not just sitting here [thinking], 'Oh well. Next year is going to be better.' I think that's the worst mindset we can have. We are trying. We are not enjoying it, either. We want to go out and win just as bad. Hopefully everything turns and we get the ball rolling." -- Davidson, on the White Sox struggles

UP NEXT
James Shields took a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh during his last start against the Twins on Sunday, eventually finishing with a no-decision. Shields, who has allowed four runs over his past 12 2/3 innings, will take the mound Saturday afternoon against Jon Lester and the Cubs for a 1:20 p.m. CT first pitch at Wrigley Field.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Carson Fulmer