It was only Sunday when the White Sox were in much a better place as they arrived at the .500-mark with a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins.
But after their third straight loss to the Cubs in grand fashion, this one an 8-3 whipping on Thursday afternoon before 31,968 at Wrigley Field, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko didn’t have much to say.
Having seen his team routed by the Cubs for the third time in four days thanks to pitcher Travis Wood’s fourth-inning grand slam off Jake Peavy, Konerko didn’t need to expand on his thoughts after the White Sox were outscored 24-6 in the series.
“We were just beaten soundly,” Konerko said. “You tip your hat to them and there’s not much more to say than that. They were better in every area of the game.”
Every aspect seemed to jump up and bite the White Sox in a disastrous fourth inning.
They already trailed 2-1 when Wellington Castillo reached first base to start the inning after nobody could locate his infield pop up and it fell two feet behind third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who had charged toward the mound. Luis Valbuena followed with a single and Peavy hit Darwin Barney in the back to load the bases with no outs.
Wood, who also homered earlier this season, then ripped a 2-1 cutter from Peavy into the basket in left-center field for a grand slam and a 6-1 lead.
The first grand slam by a Cubs pitcher at Wrigley Field since Burt Hooton in 1972 perfectly summarized these three games for the White Sox: they never seemed to give themselves a chance.
“You gotta give them credit,” said Peavy, who allowed six earned runs and eight hits in four innings. “At the same time, you got to look at yourself. We have to bring it. I think that we just have to step up with a little more intensity and it starts with me. I didn’t do a very good job of that today. Nor did much of anybody. We got to. We played well against Miami and then let our guard down here and didn’t play with intensity.”
After two weeks of sound play on defense and the base paths, the White Sox showed they haven’t completely shed their error-prone ways against the Cubs. They misplayed balls in the outfield and on the infield. They ran themselves out of an inning or two. And they couldn’t hit a lick against Cubs pitching, either.
Cubs starters out-pitched the White Sox in the series by a significant margin as they allowed four earned runs in 21 innings. The White Sox, who entered with the best ERA among American League starting pitchers, yielded 14 runs in 14 innings.
Though his team essentially must start over again, White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks it’s doable. The White Sox had won nine of 12 games before they faced the Cubs.
“Anytime you have three games like this at any point, it's discouraging,” Ventura said. “But again, you've got to regroup and go. We've shown that we can play a lot better than this and you're going to have to prove it again.”
Peavy hasn’t had too many innings like he did on Thursday. He was one pitch away from escaping the second inning when Valbuena doubled with two outs, one of four straight two-out hits that gave the Cubs a 2-0 advantage.
Following the fourth inning, Ventura elected to remove Peavy, who had thrown only 69 pitches, in favor of a pinch hitter to try and spark the White Sox offense.
Aside from the work done by Konerko, however, the White Sox couldn’t do much against Wood, who allowed two earned runs and struck out six in six innings.
Konerko cut the lead to 2-1 in the third inning with a two-out RBI single off Wood.
He added an RBI double in the sixth to make it 7-2.
The White Sox appeared to start a one-out rally in the seventh inning against reliever James Russell but Alejandro De Aza, who reached base four times, was thrown out in an attempt to stretch a single into a double.
“There was a couple (mistakes) out there today that I don’t think any to do with the game and winning or losing,” Konerko said. “But it’s something when it comes to the base running, the defensive stuff, that’s what you want to be good at because you feel like you have some sort of control of that...You just have got to get better at it.”