AJ Pollock hit a long fly ball down the left field line.
For a moment, it looked like 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 badly. Just the way things have gone for the White Sox for parts of this season.
The Sox didn’t score in the eighth and the game was tied. The Guardians blasted through with three in the ninth against closer Liam Hendriks and won 7-4 in front of 18,518 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Red Sox followed up what manager Tony La Russa described as a “tough loss” with what he called a “very gutsy win.”
And it was Pollock who came with the late hit in Game 2, leading the Sox to a 5-4 victory for a division.
His hard-hitting ground ball ricocheted off third baseman Ernie Clement’s glove and into left field for a two-run single in the eighth, giving the Sox the lead.
“I was just trying to hit a line drive down the middle of the field,” Pollock said. “(Cleveland reliever Nick Sandlin) got that Frisbee slider. It’s pretty tough on righties. He was just trying to stay on it as long as he could.
“I kept going, but the mechanics held up long enough that I was able to do something, hit a decent ball and give myself a chance, and it ended up working.”
The Sox found a way to bounce back and win a split doubleheader after nearly wasting a strong performance from Lance Lynn.
Lynn allowed three hits, struck out six and walked one in six shutout innings. It was his best performance of the season. He had an 8.10 ERA in his previous five starts.
“Things that I’ve been working on are starting to click, and that’s all you can do,” Lynn said. “You have to keep working between starts. I hope it’s a good (excursion to) get my legs under me for the second half here and help us win ballgames.
“I had the break to get my legs under me coming back and doing the things we’ve been working on. And then we were able to hone in on what we needed, some mechanical stuff, and now it’s all just going out there and throwing.”
The Sox led 3-0 by reaching seventh behind Yoán Moncada’s two RBIs, a bases-loaded walk in the third and an RBI single in the fifth, and Eloy Jiménez’s solo homer in the sixth. .
But the Guardians scored four runs in the seventh.
Clement hit an RBI single and Myles Straw hit a two-out triple to right off reliever Jose Ruiz to bring the Guardians within a run.
Steven Kwan tied the game with a single off Reynaldo López and scored the go-ahead run on a triple by Amed Rosario.
The Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the eight. Sandlin came in to face Pollock, who delivered the hit the Sox desperately needed.
“They knew it was a one-run game and we had a chance,” La Russa said. “They made it happen.”
The Guardians had the tying run at third with two outs in the ninth, but Kwan lined out second baseman Josh Harrison.
“His toughness matches his talent,” La Russa said of Matt Foster, who earned the save.
Saturday’s opener also had its ups and downs for the Sox.
The Sox fell behind 4-1 before tying the game with three in the seventh.
Nolan Jones led off the ninth with a double, reaching second before right fielder Gavin Sheets’ throw. Jones advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Josh Naylor’s single to center field. That snapped Hendriks’ streak of 15⅓ scoreless innings.
Kwan hit an RBI single to left field and the last run scored on José Ramírez’s sacrifice fly to right field.
“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), that’s how they play.”
Cueto allowed four runs, three earned, and eight hits in seven innings. All four arrived in the fifth.
Kwan tied the game at 1 with a one-out double to left field, and Andrés Giménez brought in two with a single to right field. Sheets’ throw to the plate bounced past catcher Seby Zavala, and Gimenez advanced to third on error and scored on Ramirez’s sacrifice fly.
“Just bad luck,” Cueto said of the fifth. “I started that inning by giving up a walk (to Jones) and then a pitching hit to the catcher (Austin Hedges), and that was reversed.”
The Sox had five straight hits in the seventh and tied the game.
Harrison and Moncada drove in a run off reliever Eli Morgan to bring the Sox within a run. Andrew Vaughn tied the game with an RBI single off reliever Trevor Stephan.
José Abreu singled to right field and Yasmani Grandal, who had three hits, reached on an infield hit to load the bases with two out. Stephan struck out Sheets to end the rally.
Zavala singled to start the eighth and moved to second on a bunt by Leury Garcia. 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 good to play up front, see what happens. But that’s not the way he developed.”
What unfolded in Game 2 was timely hitting for the Red Sox, who have a chance to salvage a split series with Dylan Cease on the mound Sunday against Shane Bieber.
“When you’re all game and then you give up right there, it’s easy to turn around and give up,” Lynn said. “That is something we are not going to do. Obviously it hasn’t been our year so far, but there are still a few games left, there are still a few things that we are capable of doing.”