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White Sox shut down by North Siders

Peavy allows six runs, including grand slam, over four innings

CHICAGO -- Not even Jake Peavy could salvage a White Sox victory at Wrigley Field before 31,968 Thursday afternoon, or for that matter, a White Sox victory this week against their North Side rivals.

Peavy (6-3) entered this 8-3 drubbing administered by the Cubs (22-30) with a 5-1 record, 1.33 ERA and a .177 opponents' average against over his last six starts against the Cubs. Those dominant numbers translated into six runs allowed on eight hits over four innings and just 69 pitches against Dale Sveum's suddenly charged-up squad.

The Cubs outscored the White Sox (24-27) by a 24-6 margin over the three games, with Tuesday's rainout at U.S. Cellular Field to be rescheduled. Jeff Samardzija, Scott Feldman and Travis Wood (5-3) allowed four earned runs over 21 innings pitched, while the starting trio of Jose Quintana, John Danks and Peavy gave up 13 earned runs in 14 innings.

Thursday's loss cut the White Sox all-time series lead over the Cubs to 49-44, and gave the Cubs a 24-23 edge at Wrigley Field. The loss Monday at home and two at Wrigley left the White Sox with their first three-game losing streak against the Cubs since dropping six straight from June 22, 2007 to June 22, 2008.

The last four days were punctuated by the Cubs taking postgame pictures with the Crosstown Cup as the new city champions. But the White Sox didn't need to stick around for those photo opportunities to understand their disappointing performance.

"We just got beat in all facets of the game. That's all you can say," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "We were just beaten soundly. You tip your hat to them and there's not much more to say than that. They were better in every area of the game."

"Any time you get beat like we did, it's going to look like that," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his team looking lifeless. "That's just the way it is. Now you've got to go try and beat somebody else."

In the fourth inning of this latest loss, the shaky 2013 White Sox season just might have hit rock bottom. At least, the White Sox have to hope that fact to be true.

Four runs were scored by the Cubs in the frame. But it was how those four runs scored that was truly troubling.

Welington Castillo opened with a high popup behind the pitcher's mound. Peavy broke toward the plate in tracking the baseball, saying postgame that he was just trying to get out of the way. Third baseman Conor Gillaspie seemed to be thrown by Peavy's movement, with Ventura adding that Castillo hit a similar popup in the second inning that resulted in a ball caught by catcher Tyler Flowers near the screen.

Whatever the reasoning, the ball fell safely next to the mound for one of the oddest hits Castillo will produce.

"There's no doubt the wind blew the ball back a little bit farther than I think anybody thought," Peavy said. "The play didn't get made. It's not the way you want to start the inning."

"It needs to be caught," Ventura said. "Everybody's running all over the place and it ends up dropping."

Luis Valbuena, who finished a triple short of the cycle, followed with a single off the right-field wall, and when Peavy hit Darwin Barney with a pitch, the bases were loaded with nobody out for pitcher Travis Wood. Wood is not the normal weak-hitting pitcher, entering the game with a .238 average, one homer and three RBIs, and already having picked up a single during a two-out, two-run rally in the second.

Wood proved that point to be true again by connecting for a grand slam on a 2-1 Peavy cutter down the middle. It was the first grand slam by a Cubs pitcher since Jason Marquis in 2008 and the first grand slam by a Cubs pitcher at Wrigley Field since Burt Hooton in 1972.

Defense and pitching let the White Sox down on Thursday, and their hitting and baserunning wasn't much better. Konerko singled home a run against Wood in the third and then doubled home a run in the sixth off the Cubs left-hander, who yielded five hits and two walks while fanning six in six innings.

"To hold a team down to two runs in six innings with the wind blowing as hard as it was out, you're doing something right," said Sveum of Wood handling the 24-mph gusts. "That's like pitching a shutout."

Alejandro De Aza singled home a run in the ninth off Cubs closer Kevin Gregg. De Aza, who reached base four times, also singled in the seventh after reliever James Russell walked pinch-hitter Tyler Greene with one out , but he was thrown out by Alfonso Soriano trying to stretch it into a double. Even if the leadoff man was trying to make something happen, it's still an ill-advised move down 7-2.

A West Coast trip to Oakland and Seattle awaits the White Sox starting Friday. They will make the journey after losing bragging rights to the Cubs for the first time since '07, but more importantly, after losing the momentum built by winning nine of 12 before facing the Cubs.

"Every guy in here will tell you we got outplayed," Peavy said. "We didn't play with the intensity we needed to play with. We didn't make plays. We didn't make pitches. We didn't get hits. We played, just not good baseball. We played well against Miami and then let our guard down here and didn't play with intensity."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
Read More: Chicago White Sox, Paul Konerko, Jake Peavy, Alejandro De Aza