Early in their 10-game homestand, Jimmy Rollins said when the White Sox score a run for Chris Sale it can feel like four to opponents.
Ditto for the White Sox offense, which is stuck in a deep freeze.
Despite a little late noise on Wednesday afternoon, the White Sox couldn’t find their way out of a funk that has now lasted a dozen games.
Corey Kluber pitched seven sharp innings and the White Sox lost their third straight to the Cleveland Indians, falling 4-3 in front of 22,561 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox -- who have produced three or fewer runs in nine of 12 games -- lost their fifth straight series, dropping three of four to Cleveland. The team’s lead in the American League Central has slipped to a half game after losing 11 of its last 15.
“We’re not putting up runs, that’s the bottom line,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “When your pitchers are busting their tail, we have to find a way to stop the burning and get some runs in.”
Melky Cabrera provided temporary relief with one out in the eighth inning with a two-run homer off Byran Shaw to get the White Sox within a run. Jose Abreu also singled off Shaw to give him three hits for a second straight game and put the tying run aboard. But Shaw got Brett Lawrie to foul out and Dioner Navarro grounded out to first base.
Indians closer Cody Allen retired the White Sox in order in the ninth inning.
Until recently, the White Sox have given themselves plenty of chances. They entered Wednesday with a .322 on-base percentage. But over their last dozen, the White Sox have a .289 OBP.
Kluber limited the White Sox to four at-bats with a runner in scoring position in the finale, allowing seven hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out nine.
The right-hander was effective in keeping the White Sox cold in their limited chances.
Jimmy Rollins made the final out of the third inning with a groundout with a man in scoring position and flew out with two on to end the fifth. Adam Eaton -- who went 0-for-5 -- struck out ahead of Rollins in the fifth and grounded out in the seventh with a runner in scoring position.
The White Sox are 18-for-90 (.200) with four doubles, a home run and 23 RBIs with runners in scoring position in their last 12 games.
“Got runners on first and third less than two outs and I don’t get the job done, that’s unacceptable,” Eaton said. “It’s tough.
“We’ve got to score more runs, pitching has been there.
“We’ve got to step it up.”
An ineffective offense hurt White Sox starter Jose Quintana yet again.
He struggled early and found himself deep in a number of counts, but recovered to give the White Sox six solid innings.
Lonnie Chisenhall put Cleveland ahead for good in the second inning with a two-out, two-run triple to right field. Eaton just missed as he tried to making a spectacular diving grab, which allowed the ball to go to the wall.
The Indians added a run in the third off Quintana on a Juan Uribe sac fly.
Quintana retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. He allowed three earned runs and five hits with a walk in six innings. Quintana struck out eight.
Now the White Sox have to find their bats as they head back onto the road. The team has actually fared better away from U.S. Cellular Field this season, going 14-9 with an average of 4.74 runs a game compared to 3.48 in 25 home games.
But the White Sox are headed to Kansas City for four, followed by three against the New York Mets and three in Detroit.
“You keep going,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You regroup. You get going. We had our big guys going and it didn’t go well for us. Offensively we can do some more.”