MINNEAPOLIS — Lucas Giolito returned to the mound but the Chicago White Sox couldn’t return to the win column.
The Sox let two late leads slip away and completed a dismal trip with a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings Sunday in front of 16,197 at Target Field.
Byron Buxton hit a game-ending three-run homer off closer Liam Hendriks, handing the Sox their seventh consecutive loss. It’s the team’s first seven-game losing streak since Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2019.
“We did some things but not enough of them and we got beat,” manager Tony La Russa said Sunday. “It’s a tough loss. We all shared in it. Final score with the whole road trip, we’re all part of it and we’ll all wear it.”
The skid started April 17 at home when the Sox dropped the series finale to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox then lost three in Cleveland and three more in Minnesota. According to the postgame notes, it’s the fist time the Sox have gone at least 0-6 on a single trip since April 29-May 5, 2008.
“Just got to keep grinding it out,” said shortstop Tim Anderson, who went 2-for-5 with a home run. “Nobody is going to really give us anything. We’ve just got to keep competing.
“It’s still early. We’ve got a whole season. We’ll take our punches now. Just keep chipping away. That’s all we can do, honestly.”
Danny Mendick’s leadoff home run in the seventh gave the Sox a 3-1 lead. But reliever Aaron Bummer walked José Godoy to begin the bottom of the inning and Buxton followed with a two-run homer to tie the game.
Mendick scored in the 10th on a two-out single by Yasmani Grandal to put the Sox back ahead.
Hendriks, who La Russa said was dealing with some back stiffness, walked Godoy in the bottom of the 10th, giving the Twins runners on first and second with one out. With Buxton at the plate again, the runners advanced on a wild pitch.
“There’s an option (with first base open),” La Russa said. “Pitch him tough. But the guy on deck (Luis Arraez) is hitting (.354) and he feasts on fastballs. You give a pitcher a chance to make a pitch. He tried to bounce a curveball, created second and third.
“Any time you load the bases you better have a significant advantage with the guy on deck. Because you’re playing right into his hands and the guy on deck is a tough out. We had a better chance to do what (Giolito) did to him the first couple times up (striking him out three times).”
Buxton hit a 3-1 fastball 469 feet for the game-winning home run, continuing the Sox’s free fall.
“The losses are significant and they’re tough to take,” La Russa said. “But this is the first month of a season so it’s important to figure out what they did, what we didn’t do and next time we face them make an adjustment, but get ready for Kansas City (on Tuesday).”
There were not many positives for the Sox on a trip that saw struggles offensively and defensively, and an injury to left fielder Eloy Jiménez (right hamstring strain). But they did get Giolito back.
The right-hander made his first start since opening day at Detroit, when he exited after four innings with an abdominal strain.
He allowed one run on four hits with nine strikeouts and three walks in four innings Sunday.
“It took me a little bit to get going,” Giolito said. “It was kind of like a ramp up as the game went on, the fourth inning was the best I’ve felt this year.
“I wanted to go out for the fifth, but I had a pretty strict pitch limit on me and I wasn’t efficient enough, unfortunately. I thought I threw the ball well.”
Giolito struck out four of the final five batters he faced. He exited after 76 pitches and with the Sox ahead 2-1.
But Buxton and the Twins found a way to spoil the return. The Sox look to regroup Tuesday against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“Use the off day (Monday) to our advantage and kind of hit the reset button,” Giolito said. “It’s very early in the season. At the end of the season, we’re going to have more than nine losses.
“It’s unfortunate to take some in a stretch like this, but I just think with the group we have, we just come together and go play good baseball next week and set the tone there and keep building.”