Elvis Andrus and Luis Robert stood at second and first base, respectively, representing the potential tying and winning runs for the Chicago White Sox.
Manager Tony La Russa called on Leury García to pinch hit for Seby Zavala with one out and the Sox clawing back a run in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Garcia singled Ian Kennedy’s 1-1 pitch to left, but it fouled out — another example in a season filled with what could have been — and the at-bat ended with a strikeout.
Kennedy then struck out Romy Gonzalez to end the game as the Sox ended a dismal weekend against the Diamondbacks with a 3-2 loss in front of 29,781 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Sox have lost all three games against the Diamondbacks, who are in fourth place in the National League West, and have dropped nine of 11.
“The last 11, I don’t know how many it’s been, but I know within a couple of them, we’ve been right there,” Sox third baseman Josh Harrison said. “We had several chances to tie the game, to win the game, but we failed. A jump here or there, a pitch here or there.
“It’s frustrating because you want to win. We show up every day to win and it hasn’t gone our way. But like I said, you have to show up every day.”
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With the slump in late August, the Sox are two games under .500 at 63-65 and in third place in the American League Central, trailing the division-leading Cleveland Guardians by five games.
Asked if there was any disappointment after the series, Sox manager Tony La Russa said: “No. I just get angry. I don’t like disappointment, discouragement. This is loser bullshit. It just drains energy from your body, it’s distracting. I just get angry and I want to do something about it.”
The Sox lost a fantastic outing from starter Dylan Cease, who allowed two runs on two hits in a career-high eight innings.
“This is as good as he’s been all year,” La Russa said.
Cease struck out eight and walked one. Both hits were solo home runs.
“It was a solid game, especially from an execution standpoint,” Cease said. “I am happy that I have limited the walks. I thought I was more focused. I really wanted to command my fastball and I got into a good flow and it really made a big difference.”
Stone Garrett’s solo homer to center, just off Adam Engel’s reach, gave the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead in the second.
The Sox took the lead by two in the sixth. José Abreu singled, moved to third on a double by Andrew Vaughn and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Gavin Sheets. Vaughn advanced to third on a fly out and scored on an infield hit by AJ Pollock as the ball deflected off Diamondbacks shortstop Zach Davies.
The Diamondbacks tied the game on Sergio Alcántara’s solo homer against Cease with one out in the eighth.
“I hit my spot,” Cease said. “Sometimes you have to flip your lid.”
Reliever Kendall Graveman walked twice in the ninth and the Diamondbacks went ahead on a two-run double by Jake McCarthy.
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Andrus doubled with one out in the ninth and Eloy Jiménez, who pinch hit for Engel, walked. Robert, limited by a sprained left wrist, ran for Jiménez.
The Sox went with the switch-hitting García, who is hitting .209/.234/.271, to hit from the left side against the righty Kennedy.
“I thought he was going to get a fastball to hit and he did,” La Russa said. “He hit only one foul. And I knew we were going to give Romy an at-bat because (García) was going to be hard to double. One thing about Seby, if he hits a ground ball, that’s the last hitter we have (due to a potential game-ending double play).
Sox came up empty.
“I don’t think anyone is coming to show effort,” Harrison said. “But considering where we’ve been for a week and a half, there was a little disappointment. Trying to score runs, catching some tough breaks here and there. Some tough games.
“At the end of the day we have to play better as a whole. Not to single out any game, any field, anything. Baseball is a consistent game and really we haven’t been consistent enough.”
The Sox are off on Monday before continuing their homestand against the Kansas City Royals.
“I have to keep closing,” Harrison said. “Frustration, anger, will be different emotions for people. Needless to say, we are not in a good place overall.
“Baseball is a game where you can’t put your head down. … It’s a long season. There are ebbs and flows and part of being a professional is showing up every day. No matter what happened in the past, you have to bring it.”