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White Sox fight to finish, but unable to turn tide

Down 7 in 8th, club brings tying run to plate in 9th before taking 7th straight loss
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Manager Rick Renteria's White Sox did not quit Saturday afternoon against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They also didn't win, dropping an 8-4 decision and falling for a seventh straight time.

They can take solace in bringing Jose Abreu to the plate in the ninth inning as the tying run against closer Brandon Morrow, after trailing 8-1 in the eighth. But it doesn't erase or even hide their worst 36-game start in franchise history at 9-27.

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CHICAGO -- Manager Rick Renteria's White Sox did not quit Saturday afternoon against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They also didn't win, dropping an 8-4 decision and falling for a seventh straight time.

They can take solace in bringing Jose Abreu to the plate in the ninth inning as the tying run against closer Brandon Morrow, after trailing 8-1 in the eighth. But it doesn't erase or even hide their worst 36-game start in franchise history at 9-27.

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"We're not playing the type of baseball we want to play," said White Sox center fielder Adam Engel, who had three hits and two runs scored while hitting in the leadoff spot for the second time this season. "Our expectation is higher than how we're playing.

Video: CWS@CHC: Abreu knocks in a run with an RBI groundout

"But we had a chance to tie the game there with one of our best hitters. This team fights and battles, and that's something we can take away from it."

Chris Beck and Aaron Bummer issued five walks combined during a three-run seventh, with Willson Contreras' two-run homer punctuating the rally and that seven-run advantage. Contreras has three home runs and 10 RBIs in two games against the White Sox.

That lead did not mark the end for the White Sox, who scored three times in the eighth off of Carl Edwards Jr. on Matt Davidson's 10th home run of the season. A Leury Garcia infield single and a missed catch error on right fielder Kris Bryant brought in Morrow to replace Mike Montgomery with nobody out in the ninth, and Morrow promptly struck out pinch-hitters Yolmer Sanchez and Daniel Palka.

Morrow walked Tim Anderson after getting ahead 0-2, loading the bases and giving Abreu a chance to complete the improbable. But that's not how things have worked this season for the White Sox, with Abreu's groundout dropping the White Sox to 1-11 in their last 12 and 0-6 in Interleague action. White Sox pitching has allowed five or more runs in each of its last eight games.

Video: CWS@CHC: Morrow retires Abreu for the save

"It is tough to overcome, but sometimes when you're in that situation, you have to try to do it. There's nothing else you can do," Renteria said. "Nobody's going to lament the situation we're in. We have to keep scraping, scrapping, fighting, doing everything we can to put ourselves in a good position to try to win a ballgame on a daily basis."

James Shields set down 14 of the last 15 hitters he faced Saturday, but following a 2-hour, 15-minute rain delay before first pitch, it was the five-run damage done by the Cubs in the first two innings against the veteran right-hander that ultimately gave Jon Lester enough support. Shields took a perfect game into the sixth and a no-hitter into the seventh during his last start Sunday against the Twins, but he lost his no-hitter Saturday on Javier Baez's leadoff triple to right.

Video: CWS@CHC: Shields rings up Almora in the 1st

After a Bryant walk, Anthony Rizzo hit a three-run homer to left-center on the next pitch. David Bote added a run-scoring single to complete the first, while Contreras singled home a run in the second. From there, Shields didn't allow another hit until Bote's one-out infield single in the sixth, but it wasn't enough to keep the White Sox from dropping to 2-15 in their last 17 Interleague road games.

As the rebuild continues, the fight will have to sustain the White Sox.

"We're gonna put everything into a game," Shields said. "We're going to fight at the end of the day. We're going to keep doing what we're doing and grinding out."

"I know we fell short," Renteria said. "But if this can't build a little confidence in them, get them back on track, nothing can."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The White Sox had a prime scoring chance in the fourth after Abreu singled and Welington Castillo walked with one out. Jose Rondon worked the count to 3-1 but couldn't check his swing on the ensuing pitch from Lester. At 3-2, Rondon grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat. The exit velocity on the Rondon grounder was 101.4 mph per Statcast™.

Video: CWS@CHC: Lester gets Rondon to ground into a DP

SOUND SMART
The White Sox have allowed 36 runs in the first inning, the most of any inning for them this season. Nine of Shields' 29 earned runs allowed also have come in the first.

HE SAID IT
"We know that, as dismal as it might seem, there are better days coming. Even for the group that's here, there are better days coming and better days coming for the organization." -- Renteria

UP NEXT
Right-hander Lucas Giolito gets the call in the series finale at Wrigley Field, with a first pitch of 1:20 p.m. CT on Sunday. Giolito is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA, 1.94 WHIP and .310 opponents average over his last four starts (one quality). The Cubs will counter with right-hander Kyle Hendricks.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson, Adam Engel, James Shields