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Win slips away in 9th as bullpen can't stop rally

Lopez impresses with 7 1/3 innings of 2-run ball
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Reynaldo Lopez continued to impress with another strong outing, but he was ultimately let down by his bullpen Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nate Jones, coming into the ninth with a three-run lead, gave up four runs on 10 pitches as the White Sox fell, 6-5, to the Pirates. Starling Marte and Josh Bell led off with consecutive singles, and after Corey Dickerson grounded out, Elias Diaz hit a two-run ground-rule double and Colin Moran crushed a two-run homer to sink the Sox.

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CHICAGO -- Reynaldo Lopez continued to impress with another strong outing, but he was ultimately let down by his bullpen Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nate Jones, coming into the ninth with a three-run lead, gave up four runs on 10 pitches as the White Sox fell, 6-5, to the Pirates. Starling Marte and Josh Bell led off with consecutive singles, and after Corey Dickerson grounded out, Elias Diaz hit a two-run ground-rule double and Colin Moran crushed a two-run homer to sink the Sox.

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"Mechanically, I feel pretty good," Jones said. "Didn't execute on my part, and big league hitters do what they're supposed to do when you leave pitches up or in the zone. I paid for it."

Wednesday's loss is the White Sox fifth in a row. Chicago is 1-9 over its last 10 games and is now 3-15 at home.

Jones' second blown save of the year put a damper on an otherwise positive afternoon, given Lopez's strong outing. Limiting the Pirates to three hits in a career-high 7 1/3 innings, two of which were solo home runs, Lopez pitched well enough to win, walking two and striking out six. The 24-year-old righty pitched into the seventh inning for the third straight start and fourth time in seven outings this season.

"I couldn't have scripted it any better today, to be honest," manager Rick Renteria said. "We did exactly what we wanted to do, had the guy to close it out, and we didn't. That's it. We played a really good ballgame, we had a chance to win and weren't able to close it out."

Video: PIT@CWS: Anderson clubs a two-run homer in the 2nd

Lopez's ability to give the White Sox length has been a boon for the team so far, and he said his mindset is to always go at least six innings.

"If you want to be a successful starter, you need to be consistent," Lopez said. "You can have five or six good outings and maybe you're going to have one bad. But then you have to stop that bad outing and start a new good streak. That's important, and that's our goal, always."

Lopez's lone hiccups came in the sixth inning. Jordy Mercer led off the frame with a home run, and two batters later, Gregory Polanco followed with a homer of his own. Lopez also walked Bell twice, but the only other Pittsburgh baserunner came on a fielder's choice.

"I know he gave up a couple of homers, but if you guys remember his last outing, he had earned his way through six-plus," Renteria said. "He had a little bit of trouble early. We spoke to him in the middle of the game. Today he was dead set.

"I thought he went out today thinking, 'I'm throwing nine.'"

Pirates starter Trevor Williams also pitched well, but fell victim to the home run bug. Williams gave up two-run homers to Tim Anderson and Daniel Palka, their seventh and third homers of the year, respectively. Palka went 3-for-3 and has collected 10 RBIs in 11 games this season.

Video: PIT@CWS: Palka clubs a two-run homer to left-center

Welington Castillo provided an insurance run in the eighth off Richard Rodriguez, doubling home Jose Rondon for his second straight multi-hit performance, but it proved not enough for Chicago. Yolmer Sanchez also extended his hitting streak to seven games with a first-inning single.

Video: PIT@WSH: Castillo lines an RBI double to right

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Straddling the line: During the Pirates' ninth-inning rally, Diaz's ground-rule double bounced on the foul line near the right-field fence. Palka made a nice effort to try to corral it, but it fell just out of his reach. Trayce Thompson, who normally comes in for defense late in games, had already entered the game in place of Leury Garcia in left field. Garcia had previously shifted from second base to left field after Nicky Delmonico left the game in the 5th with a right quad bruise.

Video: PIT@CWS: Diaz plates two runs on ground-rule double

Renteria said after the game that he was unhappy with Garcia not living up to the expected amount of hustle on every White Sox play while running out a bunt in the seventh.

"[Pulling Garcia for Thompson] was not a defensive switch," Renteria said. "I was asking him in a more personal note if he's OK, to be honest. He might have something on his mind. I wanted to make sure he was OK.

"That's a rarity for Leroy [Garcia]," Renteria continued. "So, as I tell the guys, if you are a Porsche, show me a Porsche unless something is bothering you. If you are a Volkswagen, you are a Volkswagen. Just give me what you got. If you are a Porsche and have a faulty spark plug, let me know and I'm OK with it. Give me what you got."

SOUND SMART
Matt Davidson drew his 19th walk of the season, matching his entire 2017 total. He achieved the feat in just 125 plate appearances, about one-fourth of his 443 PAs last season.

HE SAID IT
"This kid's got a special skill-set. We watched him on tape, then [today] we got an opportunity to see him live. Live was better than on tape. The fastball plays. It's high 90s. The changeup's real [good]. I saw him throw 98 mph and I saw him throw an 83-mph changeup. You've got to cover 15 mph as a hitter. Plus, he located the ball extremely well. Plus, the [breaking ball] was in play. He had command of all his pitches. We caught a couple balls off the barrel. We had three hits at the end of the day as he pitched 7 1/3. He was very, very good today." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on Lopez

UP NEXT
The White Sox will have Thursday off before starting a three-game series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Carson Fulmer toes the rubber for the White Sox, who's coming off an inefficient outing where he gave up five runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings against the Twins. Tyler Chatwood will take the mound for the Cubs.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago White Sox, Reynaldo Lopez