ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) - Candace Parker scored 17 of her 26 points in the first half and the Los Angeles Sparks used a decisive second quarter to cruise to a 93-80 win over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night.
Chicago was within two with 3:55 left before halftime, but Los Angeles closed the opening 20 minutes with an 18-2 run for a 53-35 lead. Kristi Toliver started the spurt with a 3-pointer and Parker scored the final six points.
Parker scored the first five Los Angeles points of the third quarter, including a coast-to-coast layup and a 3-pointer, and the Sparks led by double figures for the entire second half.
Nneka Ogwumike had 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Jantel Lavender scored 16 on 7-of-9 shooting for Los Angeles (4-0), which was ranked No. 2 in the AP WNBA power poll. Kristi Toliver had 11 points and 10 assists and the Sparks finished with 27 assists on 30 field goals. Parker was just 6 of 15 from the field but hit 12 of 14 free throws and grabbed nine rebounds.
Jamierra Faulkner scored 17 points with a career-high 10 assists for No. 7 Chicago (1-3), which was without point guard Courtney Vandersloot for a second straight game. The Sky turned it over 15 times and Elena Delle Donne was held to eight points.
Chris Sale’s bid to win his first 10 starts of the season ended in spectacular fashion on Tuesday night.
The White Sox pitcher endured the longest inning of his career and then some as the Cleveland Indians gave him an early exit and the White Sox never recovered, losing 6-2 at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 21,550. Cruising through two-plus innings, Sale needed 43 pitches to escape the third inning and allowed six earned runs in 3.1 frame. Vying to become only the eighth pitcher in baseball history to win his first 10 starts, and just the second since 1920, Sale was tagged with his first loss. His earned-run average rose from 1.58 to 2.26 in the process.
The White Sox have lost 10 of their last 14 games.
With two outs in the third inning, Sale’s pitch count stood at 32, including only five in the frame, and he had retired eight of the first 10 batters faced. But what appeared to be another chapter in a spectacular start to Sale’s season quickly unraveled. He walked Jose Ramirez on 10 pitches even after he got ahead of him 1-2 in the count and Francisco Lindor singled. Mike Napoli’s drive to left-center field then fell in between Austin Jackson and Melky Cabrera for a two-run triple to put the Indians ahead for good.
But the inning wasn’t yet over.
Sale walked Carlos Santana on seven pitches and Juan Uribe won a nine-pitch battle when he dumped a 2-2 changeup into right for an RBI single. Though Sale struck out Marlon Byrd to end the inning, he never recovered.
Chris Gimenez started the fourth inning with a solo homer off Sale — only the sixth he has allowed in 71.2 innings this season. The left-hander would issue two more walks and an RBI single to Lindor to fall behind 5-1 before he exited the game.
Sale’s attempt to become only the first starting pitcher to win 10 straight since San Diego’s Andy Hawkins in 1985 ended with his shortest start since he lasted only three innings on Sept. 13, 2015.
Sale allowed six earned runs and seven hits with four walks. He struck out seven.
The White Sox offense looked as if it may put up a fight against Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin, who improved to 7-0 with eight sharp innings.
Adam Eaton opened the game with a solo home run to right field, his third, to give the White Sox a 1-0 advantage.
But White Sox bats again fell silent and Tomlin settled in and largely avoided trouble from there.
He retired Tyler Saladino with two on to end a potential second-inning rally and used a base-running mistake by the White Sox to build late momentum.
Down 6-1 in the fourth, the White Sox scored a run on consecutive one-out doubles by Jose Abreu, who had three hits, and Brett Lawrie. But Lawrie was caught off second base on Avisail Garcia’s grounder to shortstop and was thrown out after a brief rundown. On the play, Garcia overran first base and was doubled off to end the inning.
Beginning with the Garcia groundout, Tomlin retired 12 straight until Adam Eaton’s two-out single in the eighth inning.
The White Sox finished with six hits and scored three or fewer runs for the eighth time in 11 contests. They’ve produced three or fewer runs in 23 of 47 games this season and dropped to 7-16 in those contests.
ST. LOUIS — The Cubs didn’t need any mimes, magicians or mariachi bands in the clubhouse. Joe Maddon didn’t have to reach into his bag of tricks to deflect attention away from his team’s offensive struggles or deflate whatever pressure his young hitters might have been feeling.
The Cubs showed why they have the best record in baseball and status as World Series favorites, jumping Michael Wacha for six runs in the first inning of a 12-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
If Maddon didn’t call this shot, the manager certainly alluded to it during his pregame media session when asked which hitter he thinks opponents focus on or worry about the most.
"It’s hard to name one guy," Maddon said. "I’m sure they’re concerned about (Jorge) Soler hitting .190-something, just knowing that at any moment he could just break out. If I were to look at our lineup, I’d be uncomfortable all the way down (with) the way David Ross is hitting right now. There’s no comfortable break in our lineup.
"It’s a definite American League East lineup from back in the day."
That’s the entire point for this franchise, how Theo Epstein’s front office kept betting on hitters in the draft, trades and free agency, trying to build a bigger, better version of those Boston Red Sox teams that bludgeoned opponents.
Within that first-inning ambush, Soler drew a bases-loaded walk that forced in a run, Ross drove a ball that soared over Randal Grichuk’s head and deflected off the center fielder’s outstretched glove for a two-out, two-run double. Pitcher Jason Hammel followed that up by drilling another two-run double to center.
Soler knocked out Wacha — a pitcher the Cubs beat in the playoffs last year — in the fifth inning with a two-run homer that had 100-mph exit velocity and sailed over the center-field fence.
Handed a six-run lead within 15 minutes of first pitch, before he ever stepped onto the mound, Hammel pitched into the eighth inning and allowed only one run, continuing another All-Star level first half (6-1, 2.17 ERA).
The Cubs (30-14) ended a three-game losing streak — the first one this season — and changed the subject with fans on Twitter and for the media wondering what happened to this team.
Up next for the Cardinals (24-22) on Wednesday afternoon is Jake Arrieta, a reigning Cy Young Award winner who’s 24-1 with a 0.99 ERA in his last 29 regular-season starts. No one needs to tell the Cubs to R-E-L-A-X.
"We’ve gone through a tough time recently," Maddon said. "Believe me, man, it happens to everybody. It doesn’t concern me. I’m not distraught over it. It’s just a part of our game. But I like our names. I like our lineup a lot. Our boys will put up some huge numbers by the end of the season."