CHICAGO -- The excellence of Lucas Giolito's last four starts was aptly summed up during his 6 1/3-inning effort on Thursday night at Guaranteed Rate Field against the best team in baseball.
Although the White Sox right-hander didn't factor in the decision, with the Red Sox scoring five runs in the ninth off Thyago Vieira to hand Chicago a 9-4 loss, Giolito kept the Red Sox's impressive offense off-balance. He held Boston hitless for the first 4 2/3 innings, and the only run charged to him was scored against reliever Jeanmar Gomez during a four-run Red Sox seventh inning, which tied the game and was capped by Mookie Betts' towering two-run home run.
"When I'm feeling good and when my stuff is working, I can pitch well against any team in this league," Giolito said. "I'm not too concerned with who is in the lineup and things like that other than going over the scouting report and knowing how to attack them.
"I'm very confident in myself. I always have been. I think that a night like tonight, just feeling good and relaxed and having a good rhythm out there, it doesn't matter who I face if I'm feeling good and I'm throwing the ball well. I can get a lot of guys out."
Giolito allowed only two hits while striking out eight and walking two, including a one-out walk to Brock Holt in the seventh inning that saw him removed from the game. He set a season high with 113 pitches while recording 13 swinging strikes, according to Statcast™, including seven on his changeup. Over Giolito's last four starts, he has allowed eight runs on 18 hits over 25 1/3 innings to go with 27 strikeouts and six walks.
Twenty-two of Giolito's 113 pitches were changeups -- and it was a two-seam changeup, with Giolito having cut the four-seam changeup from his repertoire. He paired that pitch nicely with his two-seam fastball, which he threw 45 times and picked up 13 called strikes.
"I found myself throwing more sinkers, more two-seam fastballs since I made that change over to throwing the two-seam changeup only," Giolito said. "But the spin's the same.
"In my mind, I was like, 'Why would I continue to be four-seam dominant if my best secondary pitch is my two-seam changeup and the spin's different?' Some guys are going to be able to recognize that real well. Just kind of fluidly made that adjustment over the past couple months or so, and it's been working out."
Three runs in the first against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello put the White Sox in control early. Avisail Garcia, who drove in three, hit a two-run homer to center field, and Matt Davidson later added a run-scoring single. The exit velocity on Garcia's homer was 110.6 mph and it traveled a projected 421 feet. The exit velocity on Davidson's single was 75.2 mph, traveling 134 feet.
It wasn't enough to offset the eight runs allowed by Gomez and Vieira, whose five-run ninth inning was capped by J.D. Martinez's 39th home run of the season, a three-run shot.
But the White Sox story of this game came before the Red Sox late rally, as Giolito dropped his ERA to 5.66 from an unsightly 7.53 on May 29.
"It could have gone completely the other direction, but he didn't allow it to," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said of Giolito's season. "It speaks to his mental makeup, his heart. We believe he can do a job. He believes, and he continues to evolve as a pretty good Major League pitcher."
Yolmer Sanchez has reached base in a career-high 18 straight games. He has hit safely in 14 of those contests and has a .309 average during that span.
HE SAID IT
"Michael [Kopech] coming up kind of got the guys excited a little bit. We're just out there having fun, competing against each other. Who can go deeper into the game? Who can strike out more guys? It's kind of a rivalry between us. It's fun, it's playful, but at the same time it's something you keep working for." --Giolito, on the White Sox starting rotation's 2.01 ERA over its last seven starts
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The White Sox scored a second-inning run on Garcia's sacrifice fly but it looked as if their inning had ended when Nicky Delmonico was thrown out by Jackie Bradley Jr. trying to advance from second to third on the same fly ball. Renteria challenged the call and video replay overturned it, leaving Delmonico at third. But Daniel Palka struck out to end the inning.
Michael Kopech will make his third career start (second at home) on Friday against his former organization with a 7:10 p.m. CT first pitch at Guaranteed Rate Field. Nathan Eovaldi will start for the Red Sox, who traded Kopech to Chicago in the Chris Sale deal. Kopech picked up his first career victory on Sunday in Detroit and has not issued a walk in his last 28 innings dating back to Aug. 5 while he was with Triple-A Charlotte.