The Chicago White Sox entered a season-defining three-game series against the Cleveland Guardians this week looking to pick up crucial ground in the American League Central.
The series wrapped up Thursday with another disappointing day for the Sox, who lost 4-2 in front of 23,395 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
It was a deflating three games for the Sox, who were swept and trailed the Guardians by seven games with 12 games remaining. The Guardians’ magic number to clinch the division is five.
Sox starter Johnny Cueto, pitching for the first time since Sept. 11 after an illness kept him from a weekend outing, allowed four runs — three earned — on eight hits with three strikeouts and a walk in six innings.
Guardians starter Shane Bieber allowed two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts in 7⅔ innings.
The Guardians showcased their running, whether it was on an infield hit, going first to third on a single or legging out a triple.
José Ramírez reached on an infield hit in the first, moved to third on a single and scored on a bunt single by Andrés Giménez to give the Guardians a 1-0 lead.
The Sox tied the game with a two-out rally in the bottom of the first. José Abreu doubled and scored on an Eloy Jiménez single.
The Guardians reclaimed the lead in the third when Amed Rosario reached on an infield single, moved to third when Cueto threw wildly on a pickoff attempt and scored on a Ramírez sacrifice fly.
Steven Kwan drove in a run in the fifth with a triple and scored on another sacrifice fly from Ramírez, making it 4-1.
Gavin Sheets homered in the eighth, cutting the deficit to 4-2. Bieber exited after giving up a two-out double to Yoán Moncada in the inning.
Trevor Stephan entered to face Abreu, who represented the tying run, and struck him out.
Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase retired the Sox in order in the ninth for his 37th save. .