AJ Pollock hit a long fly down the left-field line.
For a moment, it looked as if the Chicago White Sox were going to take the lead in the eighth inning of Game 1 of a split doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians.
But the ball kept hooking and landed foul. Just the way things have gone for the Sox for parts of this season.
The Sox did not score in the eighth and the game remained tied. The Guardians broke through with three in the ninth against closer Liam Hendriks and won 7-4 in front of 18,518 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“Tough loss,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Not a whole lot of analyzing there.”
The Sox fell behind 4-1 before tying the game with three in the seventh.
Nolan Jones began the ninth with a hustle double, making it to second ahead of the throw from right fielder Gavin Sheets. Jones advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Josh Naylor’s single to center. That snapped Hendriks’ streak of 15⅓ scoreless innings.
Steven Kwan hit an RBI single to left, and the final run scored on José Ramírez’s sacrifice fly to right.
“They attack,” La Russa said. “They had pitches to hit and they didn’t miss them. That’s what they did to (Sox starter Johnny Cueto) as well, that’s how they play.”
The Sox dropped their second straight following the All-Star break. They are two under .500 and trail the second-place Guardians by three games in the American League Central entering the nightcap.
The struggles at home continued for the Sox, who are 19-27 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“It’s just part of the game,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “Baseball is sometimes this way. We still have a good team and we can definitely get on a good stretch and win some games. Hopefully that’s going to put us in a better position.
“But that’s just the way the game is. Baseball is that way.”
Cueto allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits in seven innings. All four came in the fifth.
Kwan tied the game at 1 with a one-out double to left. Andrés Giménez brought in two with a single to right. Sheets’ throw to the plate bounced past catcher Seby Zavala, and Giménez advanced to third on the error before scoring on Ramírez’s sac fly.
“Just bad luck,” Cueto said of the fifth. “I started that inning giving up a walk (to Jones) and then a hit by pitch to the catcher (Austin Hedges), and that rolled over.”
The Sox had five consecutive hits in the seventh as they tied the game.
Josh Harrison and Yoán Moncada both drove in one run against reliever Eli Morgan to bring the Sox within a run. Andrew Vaughn tied the game with an RBI single against reliever Trevor Stephan.
José Abreu singled to right and Yasmani Grandal, who had three hits, reached on an infield hit to load the bases with two outs. Stephan struck out Sheets to end the rally.
Zavala singled to begin the eighth and moved to second on Leury García’s bunt. Pollock hit the long, loud foul ball against Stephan during his at-bat, which ended in a strikeout. Harrison grounded out to second.
“We had three chances to get the go-ahead run, and they were able to make pitches,” La Russa said. “It would be nice to play with the lead, see what happens. But that’s not the way it played out.”
What played out was the eighth loss in 11 meetings against the Guardians this season.
“There is still plenty of season to play,” Cueto said. “We can’t keep our heads down. We have to keep playing and take advantage of every day.”