PITTSBURGH -- The White Sox have little margin for error. A strong outing from starter Hector Santiago, solid work from the bullpen and a pair of home runs were not enough as the White Sox fell to the Pirates, 3-2, on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park to drop a two-game
PITTSBURGH -- The White Sox have little margin for error. A strong outing from starter Hector Santiago, solid work from the bullpen and a pair of home runs were not enough as the White Sox fell to the Pirates, 3-2, on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park to drop a two-game series.
The loss was Chicago's eighth in nine games and brought its record to 10-29.
Santiago pitched five innings, giving up two runs on two hits and three walks. Not bad, considering the 5.60 ERA he took into the game. Veteran reliever Joakim Soria was saddled with the loss, yielding a tie-breaking run in the seventh before escaping a bases-loaded jam that could have made things worse. Leury Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez each hit a solo home run, but they were the only source of offense for the White Sox.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria liked what he saw from Santiago, a 30-year-old left-hander who was an All-Star with the Angels in 2015.
"I thought he was just throwing a lot of strikes," Renteria said. "He commanded the zone, he kept them off-balance. He pitched [inside] well. He got them off his fastball by using his offspeed pitches. He pitched with a lot of conviction today."
After Garcia led off the second inning with his second homer of the season, the Pirates quickly gained the lead in the bottom of the frame after Corey Dickerson singled with one out and Elias Diaz walked in front of Sean Rodriguez's double to left field. Nicky Delmonico made a diving attempt, but the ball skipped past him and both runners scored. Rodriguez, streaking for a triple, was called safe at third base, but he was then ruled out after video review.
"One mistake that got hit," Santiago said. "The only one that was hit, but it cost me two runs. Besides that, I think I threw pretty well."
Chicago tied the game at 2 with two out in the fourth, when Sanchez -- playing shortstop for the first time in this season -- hit his second homer of the season.
With two out in the sixth, Garcia doubled and Omar Narvaez walked. Adam Engel hit an infield single, setting the stage for Daniel Palka, batting for Santiago with the bases loaded. Right-hander Edgar Santana came in to face the lefty-swinging Palka, and he got him to ground sharply to second on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.
"I think he got on top [of the ball], rolled over a little bit," Renteria said. "Tried to take advantage of that particular moment. [It] didn't work out. I think he went in there with a good idea of what he wanted to do, just didn't happen."
Palka said he was just trying to do his part in picking up his teammate.
"I just missed it," Palka said. "Just a little out in front. ... Hector was pitching a great game and I want to pick him up. Just a little out in front of an outside heater. That's pretty much it."
In the ninth, pinch-hitter Welington Castillo singled with two out, bringing up slugger Jose Abreu as the go-ahead run, but he grounded out on the first pitch.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early-bird, no worm: The Sox squandered an early opportunity against right-hander Jameson Taillon when Yoan Moncada led off the game with a walk and Delmonico hit a two-out single. Chicago had Matt Davidson, who leads the club in several offensive categories, at the plate, but he flied out.
Shaking off the rust: Soria had not pitched in a game in eight days, but he was called on to keep the game at 2-2 in the seventh inning. He was greeted by a Diaz double, followed by a walk to Jordy Mercer and pinch-hitter Josh Bell's single, which proved to be the winning run. Soria eventually pitched out of a bases-loaded jam, striking out Gregory Polanco and David Freese.
When asked if inactivity might have hurt his performance, Soria said it may have had "a little bit" of an effect.
"The first batter, it was 3-0 right away," Soria said. "And he was the run that ended up [scoring]. But there's no excuses. I should be able to do my job and perform."
HE SAID IT
"When you look at Sanchy, he's a pretty versatile young man. When he hasn't played there, he doesn't worry about that. He knows what he's gotta do. I think he's very capable of playing all three infield positions. I hope I can expand his role and start using him in the outfield as well." -- Renteria, on Sanchez starting his first game at shortstop this season
The White Sox return home to face the Texas Rangers on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT at Guaranteed Rate Field. Right-hander James Shields (1-4, 5.44 ERA) will make his fifth start of the season. Lefty Cole Hamels (2-4, 3.48) is scheduled to start for Texas.
** Bob Cohn ** is a contributor to MLB.com and is based in Pittsburgh.