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Shields quality again, White Sox lack runs in loss

Moncada provides lone run with solo HR; Thome honored pregame
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- James Shields entered Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Indians with a 3.64 ERA in 14 home starts this season and a 2.85 ERA over his last 10 home starts.

The White Sox right-hander did nothing to hurt those numbers with his performance against the American League Central leaders on Jim Thome Day, as he allowed two earned runs on seven hits over seven innings. Shields has nine quality starts in his last 11 trips to the mound at Guaranteed Rate Field and has worked at least six innings in 18 of his last 21 starts, but his record still dipped to 4-14 overall.

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CHICAGO -- James Shields entered Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Indians with a 3.64 ERA in 14 home starts this season and a 2.85 ERA over his last 10 home starts.

The White Sox right-hander did nothing to hurt those numbers with his performance against the American League Central leaders on Jim Thome Day, as he allowed two earned runs on seven hits over seven innings. Shields has nine quality starts in his last 11 trips to the mound at Guaranteed Rate Field and has worked at least six innings in 18 of his last 21 starts, but his record still dipped to 4-14 overall.

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"It's been a frustrating season, there's no doubt about it," said Shields, who needed 94 pitches to get through seven but slipped to 0-4 over his last five starts. "I'm just going to go out there and keep throwing, trying to throw quality starts and go as deep as I can in the game, give us a chance to win."

There was almost no offensive support for Shields, whose 3.86 run support average ranks 11th lowest in the AL. Yoan Moncada's 15th home run came with one out in the third to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead against Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer, but that long ball represented all the White Sox would get against the Cy Young candidate.

Moncada's home run was his first since Aug. 1, against Kansas City. It was second hit in two games after being dropped to the eighth slot in the lineup.

Video: CLE@CWS: Moncada smacks a solo homer to right

"When you are batting in the bottom part of the lineup, you have more chances to see how the pitcher is throwing," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo. "You can identify their pitches, and then, in that aspect, it's beneficial. I just simply went to that at-bat to swing the bat. I found a good pitch to hit."

Cleveland didn't score over the first 13 innings of the series against the White Sox but brought home an unearned run in the fifth on Greg Allen's single. Back-to-back homers from Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez in the sixth gave the Indians their victory margin. Bauer struck out eight and yielded two hits over 6 1/3 innings before exiting with an injury.

Video: CLE@CWS: Brantley, Ramirez belt back-to-back homers

"[On the] flip side, Bauer's been pitching really well this year. He's a tough one to beat," Shields said. "You can't give up two home runs in one inning and expect to win a ballgame like that."

On a night when the White Sox honored Thome and his Hall of Fame induction pregame, it only seemed natural for the White Sox to win on a walk-off. After all, Thome is the all-time big league leader in walk-off homers.

Daniel Palka, who won the game with a ninth inning blast Friday, came close to tying the contest against a full-count Cody Allen offering in the ninth. But his 396-foot drive with a 99.9 mph exit velocity per Statcast™ was caught by Greg Allen steps shy of the center field wall.

"It came off his bat hot," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Palka's blast. "I thought maybe it beat him on the barrel just a little bit. I think he felt like he got enough. Again, a big moment, a big at-bat. Worked back from two strikes, got a pitch where he can handle it and put a really good swing on it. He continues, in those moments, to show you that he's got an intent to do something significant."

"From the dugout, we thought it had a good chance," Moncada said. "But unfortunately, the wind wasn't blowing to center field. There wasn't any wind blowing today. Then, it was kind of disappointing."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A loss of control: The hardest hit White Sox ball after Moncada's home run knocked Bauer out of the game in the seventh, as Jose Abreu's line drive appeared to catch Bauer's right ankle. Abreu was out at first, then reliever Brad Hand replaced Bauer and threw his first nine pitches out of the strike zone to put the tying runs on base. Hand found the zone again, striking out Omar Narvaez and Tim Anderson to keep the White Sox from scoring.

SOUND SMART
The White Sox have scored three runs or fewer in each of their last five games.

HE SAID IT
"I'd like to win more ballgames here, that's about it. Just going to go out there every five days, try to throw quality starts and give my team a chance to win. Hopefully, win ballgames."-- Shields, on his recent run of home excellence.

UP NEXT
Dylan Covey (4-8, 5.58 ERA) is scheduled to make his 16th start of the season on Sunday afternoon vs. the Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field with a 1:10 p.m. CT first pitch. Carlos Carrasco (13-6, 3.69) will start for the Indians. Covey will try to rebound after going 1-7 with an 8.24 ERA, a .294 opponents average and 1.74 WHIP over his last nine starts.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields