Sox better but still not good enough

CHICAGO – Buried beneath the rubble of Friday’s doubleheader debacle, the Chicago White Sox managed to dig themselves out a little bit on Saturday but still walked away with another defeat.

One day after the Indians scored a combined 28 runs in two games, White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod held the red-hot Cleveland Indians to three runs over six innings, using his crafty style of location and change of pace to do it.

It was Axelrod’s first quality start since May 31 at Oakland.

“I mean, they’re swinging it real well,” Axelrod said of the Indians. “It just came down to making pitches. I felt like if I executed, you can be as hot as you want, if you execute pitches things are going to happen in a pitcher’s favor. I really felt good about most every pitch I made today.”

“Most every” means there were some he would have taken back, like the cut fastball the Indians’ Jason Kipnis hit into the right-field seats to tie the game in the sixth inning. Axelrod also gave up a home run to Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth inning.

Kipnis has reached base 11 times in the first three games of the series -- seven on hits and four on walks.

“He’s a really good fastball hitter, but right now he’s locked in,” Axelrod said. “You’ve just got to make real quality pitches, mix it up. He’s on the top of his game right now.”

The White Sox scored 18 runs themselves Friday but managed just three on Saturday. One came on a Tyler Flowers double in the second inning, while Conor Gillaspie and Dayan Viciedo had RBI hits in the fifth inning.

“They’re all tough,” manager Robin Ventura said about another defeat. “When you lose it like this and guys are doing their job, it seems a little better just because it’s a baseball game and you’re going to be on the losing end of some of them. After yesterday, it seemed like one of those where probably the offense was probably tired from both sides.”

The defeat dropped the White Sox to a season-low 14 games under .500 at 32-46.

The White Sox have surrendered leads in all three games of the current series, blowing a five-run lead in Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader and a three-run lead in Game 2. Their biggest lead Saturday was by two runs.

The White Sox fell to 12-18 in one-run games and lost for the 25th time when they held the lead at one point.

“It’s been like that,” Axelrod said. “All year, it’s been frustrating. It’s the little things. Like today, one pitch may have been the difference in the game. We’ve lost a lot of close games. It’s been real close to being, who knows … we could be the other way around if we had the little breaks going our way.”