CINCINNATI -- A sharply hit ground ball to first base and the decision that followed were the focal point of a fateful eighth inning in which the White Sox squandered a great outing by James Shields as they fell to the Reds, 5-3, at Great American Ball Park on Monday.In
CINCINNATI -- A sharply hit ground ball to first base and the decision that followed were the focal point of a fateful eighth inning in which the White Sox squandered a great outing by James Shields as they fell to the Reds, 5-3, at Great American Ball Park on Monday.
In the eighth, reliever Chris Volstad surrendered a single to Scooter Gennett and a double to Eugenio Suarez to begin the frame. After pinch-hitter Brandon Dixon struck out, a one-out walk to Jose Peraza loaded the bases.
A defensive blunder from first baseman Matt Davidson -- who replaced Jose Abreu in the seventh inning after Abreu exited with a bruised left foot -- allowed a run to score, as he was unable to get an out at first or home plate on a ground ball hit by Adam Duvall. Gennett beat the throw home to score, and Duvall was safe at first base.
"I think in his mind, he said he played the play, the situation, over in his head," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "If the play was going to be taking him to the plate, he was going to come up and go to the plate. I think he ended up redirecting, he probably thought, 'I might not get this guy at the plate. Let me just go to first,' and then he ended up doing neither.
"But that's an experience he'll have to bear. It's not like he wanted to go out there and screw that play up."
Billy Hamilton tied the game with a sacrifice fly, and Alex Blandino's pinch-hit, two-out two-run double down the right-field line made Chicago pay for its mistakes as the Reds took a 5-3 lead. Cincinnati closer Raisel Iglesias sealed it with a clean ninth inning for his 16th save.
Shields' solid outing started with his biggest mistake of the day -- a misplaced fastball that Scott Schebler pummeled over the right-field wall to give Cincinnati an early 1-0 lead. It was the start of a sluggish first inning for the right-hander, but he stranded the bases loaded after giving up a single and a pair of walks in a 25-pitch inning.
"Wasn't the plan there. I have to do a better job," Shields said. "The last walk ... I thought it was 3-1 and threw a curveball. I have to minimize the walks in general."
Shields settled in after the first inning and retired 13 of the next 17 hitters he faced. He scattered four hits in 6 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and four walks.
"Shields has been doing a great job," Renteria said. "He gives up a first-pitch homer and settles down and gets after it. He has truly been outstanding for us -- eating up innings, maneuvering. He has a veteran presence and knows what to do."
Shields was in line for his fourth win after getting two runs of support in the seventh thanks to two-out RBI hits from Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez. Moncada hit a double that scored Adam Engel, who singled and advanced to second on a bunt, and Sanchez's base hit gave Chicago a 2-1 lead.
Avisail Garcia added an insurance run with a solo shot in the eighth.
It was a step in the right direction for Moncada, who struggled over the course of the last month.
"Really good." Renteria said. "I thought he put a pretty good at-bat together. Obviously, drove the ball to left field."
The seventh-inning offensive breakthrough came after six scoreless innings from Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo, who had his fastball working with some late moving action to it that kept the White Sox off balance. Nevertheless, Chicago ousted Castillo in the seventh and gave itself a chance to win the game, but could not overcome the eighth-inning mishaps in the field.
HE SAID IT
"I read it right, and then I kind of just rushed myself and made a mistake and didn't touch the base and threw it home. I kind of looked up and saw the runner and kind of forgot about touching first. I just messed up there. Other than that, it kind of just got quick. I looked up and saw the runner so close, and instead of taking that out and throwing home, I just forgot. Or I didn't forget, I just decided to go home first. -- Davidson, on the play in the bottom of the eighth
Lucas Giolito (5-7, 6.59 ERA) gets the nod for the second game of Chicago's series in Cincinnati at 6:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Giolito lasted 6 1/3 innings his last time out, against the Twins, surrendering just one run on four hits with three strikeouts and four walks in a no-decision. Giolito has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last two starts. Anthony DeSclafani (3-1, 4.45) will be on the mound for Cincinnati.
Brian Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati