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Guardians jump Chicago starter Lucas Giolito for six early runs in 8-2 victory against White Sox

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Before taking on the White Sox in Friday’s first game back from the All-Star break, Guardians manager Terry Francona said there’s always a bit of anxiety after a long layoff.

“You don’t want them to be rusty or be sloppy,” Francona said. “I’m guessing every manager is going to say the same thing.”

Returning to the field for the first time in five days, Guardians hitters were neither rusty nor sloppy in their approach against White Sox starter Lucas Giolito. The right-hander had owned Cleveland hitters over his last 10 matchups, but the guards jumped ahead with six early runs and rolled to an 8-2 victory at guaranteed rate field.

The Guardians have won seven of 10 meetings against the White Sox and moved within 1 1/2 games of the idle Twins in the American League Central Division.

Cleveland starter Cal Quantrill labored through five innings as he fought command issues, but scattered six hits and allowed just two runs while walking one and striking out four to pick up his third consecutive win. Chicago’s only runs came on an RBI double by Jose Abreu in the third and an RBI groundout by Yasmani Grandal.

“He just didn’t have real good command but he got through five and that was helpful because we have a lot of baseball tomorrow,” Francona said.

Cleveland’s bullpen tossed four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk after Quantrill left the game. Guardians hitters, meanwhile, piled up 15 hits including three for leadoff batter Steven Kwan and two each for Amed Rosario, Josh Naylor, Andrés Giménez and Luke Maile.

Cleveland attacked Giolito early and didn’t let him get ahead in the count, where he could use his devastating offspeed pitches. Five of Cleveland’s first seven hits left the bat with exit velocities under 80 mph as they dropped softly in front of Chicago outfielders.

But there was nothing soft about Andres Gimenez’s two-run blast to right on a first pitch changeup from Giolito. The first-inning shot was Gimenez’s 11th home run and boosted his RBI total to 45.

It came on the heels of a Naylor RBI single and an RBI sacrifice fly by Owen Miller after Kwan and José Ramírez had dumped hits into the outfield against Giolito.

“We hit a lot of balls medium, but we hit balls, and we used the whole field,” Francona said. “Sometimes you get rewarded for it, and then we can run the bases like we do.”

Guardians hitters swung at seven of Giolito’s first eight pitches, leading to nine Cleveland hits in the first three innings. Rosario added an RBI single in the second and Ramirez drove in another run with a ground out for a 6-0 Guardians lead.

Quantrill said he joked that he must have been treating his teammates well with all of the run support he’s received in his last three outings. Guardians hitters staked Quantrill to a 5-0 lead after the first inning against Chicago on July 11 and an 8-0 advantage after two frames against Detroit on July 16. Friday’s six-run lead was more than welcome after the long All-Star layoff .

“That’s the start we wanted to have,” Quantrill said. “We talked about it, talked about coming back with energy and re-establishing who we believe we are and I think the boys did that in the top of the first.”

Cleveland’s leadoff batter reached base with a single in each of the first four innings and every hitter in Cleveland’s starting lineup besides rookie Nolan Jones registered a hit by the sixth inning.

Giolito entered the game 5-1 with a 0.83 ERA and 75 strikeouts in his previous 10 starts against Cleveland, including holding the Guardians to a .191 average and allowing fewer than two runs in each of those outings.

Naylor added a two-run double off Chicago lefty Tanner Banks in the sixth. It pushed Cleveland’s lead back to six and gave Naylor 50 RBI.

Quantrill (7-5, 3.75) won against Chicago for the second time in his last three outings. He struck out Yasmani Grandal with two runners on base in the first and whiffed AJ Pollock with two runners on base in the third.

A brilliant diving catch by Myles Straw on a line drive by Jose Abreu in the fifth helped keep the bases clear in Quantrill’s final frame. Straw extends his streak of reaching base by a hit or walk to 14 games with a single in the second.

Quantrill, who started and won Cleveland’s last game before the break on Saturday, became the first MLB starter to win back-to-back team games since Robbie Ray did so for Toronto on July 11 and July 16 last year, according to Elias Sports Bureau . The last time a Cleveland pitcher did so was Gaylord Perry on Oct. 2, 1974 and April 8, 1975. Perry was also the last Cleveland pitcher to do so in the same season when he won back-to-back team games on Sept 27 and Oct. 1 of 1972.

Notable: Alex Call’s pinch-hit single in the seventh marked his first big-league knock against the club that traded him in 2018 in a deal that sent Yonder Alonso to Chicago.

Next: The series continues Saturday with a double header at Guaranteed Rate Field. Game 1 features Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie (7-6, 3.20) against either White Sox righty Johnny Cueto or righty Lance Lynn. Left-hander Konnor Pilkington (1-2) 4.24 will start for Cleveland in Game 2 against either Cueto or Lynn. Game 1 will air on Bally Sports Great Lakes, while Game 2 will air on Fox. Both contests will be broadcast on WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM and the Guardians Radio Network.

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