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White Sox 5, Cubs 3: Thud

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This one didn’t go the Cubs’ way... at all.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The sun came out at Wrigley Field Sunday afternoon, at last, after the Cubs had defeated the White Sox on a couple of miserable weather afternoons Friday and Saturday.

I’d have traded the sunshine for a win, honestly. The Cubs blew an early lead and couldn’t capitalize on the wildness of Lucas Giolito, and their five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt at the hands of the White Sox, 5-3 in front of 40,537.

Giolito’s walk rate, 6.3 per nine innings entering the game, was nearly as bad as Tyler Chatwood’s major-league leading 7.6, and he showed it by walking Ben Zobrist and wild-pitching him to third. After retiring Kris Bryant, he walked Anthony Rizzo, and during all this the Cubs were running like crazy on Giolito and Sox catcher Omar Narvaez. Willson Contreras grounded to first on a contact play and Zobrist was out at the plate, but then Javier Baez gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO] with a two-run single.

Giolito then walked Kyle Schwarber, who promptly stole second — after Baez had stolen third while Kyle was batting. But Addison Russell struck out to end the inning.

So, all told, in the first inning the Cubs had four walks, four stolen bases and a hit, and Giolito threw two wild pitches... but all that resulted in just two runs. The Cubs wound up with five steals on the game. They had just eight all year prior to Sunday, and the last time a Cubs team swiped five bases in a game was September 16, 2015 against the Pirates. They moved up from dead last in the National League in steals to 13th with the five stolen bases Sunday.

Kyle Hendricks was dealing pretty well, but the Sox got one of those runs back on a solo homer by Matt Davidson in the second. Interesting, though not much fun, fact about Davidson’s homers this year:

Contreras, celebrating his 26th birthday, made a bad pickoff attempt with Adam Engel on first base with two out in the third. Engel wound up on third, and Yolmer Sanchez singled him in to tie the game.

I don’t know. Those kinds of things shouldn’t really affect a team, but that seemed set a negative tone for the rest of the game. The Cubs did manage to take a 3-2 lead on a pair of walks and an RBI double by Ian Happ in the fourth. Russell, who had drawn the second of those walks, was out at the plate on a grounder by Hendricks on another contact play.

And that’s as close as the Cubs came to scoring the rest of the game. They had just three baserunners over the last five innings, two on even more walks by Giolito (he wound up with seven), and a two-out single by pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella in the ninth. (TLS now leads the major leagues with eight pinch hits this year, for whatever that’s worth.)

The Sox took the lead in the sixth on a single by Jose Abreu and triple by Nicky Delmonico, and added a run in the seventh. Tim Anderson singled, was sacrificed to second by Narvaez, and scored on a single by Leury Garcia. That run was the first this year off Brian Duensing in 18 appearances covering 12⅓ innings. Steve Cishek and Mike Montgomery held the Sox down for the last 2⅔ innings, but the Cubs offense could do nothing with Sox relievers Jace Fry, Nate Jones and Bruce “No Relation To Hector” Rondon, who posted his first save of 2018.

Perhaps I should give less credit to the Sox relievers and more to home plate umpire Tripp Gibson, who rang up Kris Bryant in the seventh on two pitches that looked way inside, and third-base umpire Adrian Johnson, who claimed that a barely perceptible movement of Ian Happ’s bat on a 2-2 pitch with one out in the ninth was a “swing.”

The Cubs were 2-for-7 with RISP, the RBI hits by Baez and Happ, and otherwise left seven men on base. They had their chances to put this one away in the early innings against a pitcher who could barely throw strikes (just half of Giolito’s 100 pitches were strikes), and thus, the loss.

Hey, even the worst teams in baseball generally win a third of their games, and that’s what the Sox did in this series. These games always get far more attention than they deserve for regular-season games in mid-May, and I find myself feeling grateful that the Cubs won’t see them again until September.

The Cubs begin what will amount to a four-game series against the Braves Monday afternoon at Wrigley. That’s a makeup for the April 15 rainout, and after that the teams will both fly to Atlanta for three games at SunTrust Park. Monday, Jose Quintana will go for the Cubs and Julio Teheran for the Braves. Game time Monday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via WGN.