CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have a chance to sweep their neighbours and head into the All-Star break feeling at least a little better. The way they've been struggling, they'll take that.
Jon Lester pitched into the seventh inning, and the Cubs beat All-Star Lucas Giolito and the crosstown White Sox 6-3 at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday night.
The two-game series figured to be a charged one with the Cubs in a funk for weeks and the White Sox looking like a team that's breaking through after years of losing. But with Lester in command and Giolito struggling, the opener went to the North Siders with a sellout crowd watching.
"Team victory," manager Joe Maddon said. "Could have been a little bit cleaner. That's one thing we really have to work on in the second half, is to be cleaner."
Lester (8-6) went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs — one earned — and six hits. The left-hander improved to 5-2 in his past seven starts, while Giolito got knocked out in a five-run fifth.
Craig Kimbrel hit a batter and walked one in the ninth, but struck out Jose Abreu for his second save in three chances. The Cubs won their second in a row after dropping four straight, following up an 11-3 win at Pittsburgh with another victory. And they did it despite committing three errors.
Giolito (11-3) exited after Javier Báez followed Kyle Schwarber's two-run double with one of his own. Báez also doubled and scored on Kris Bryant's single in the first.
Giolito matched a season high by allowing six runs, walked a season-high five and gave up four hits in four-plus innings. It was the third time this year he gave up six runs — and two of those outings were against the Cubs.
"I'm not worried about my year or anything," he said. "I'm very frustrated with this game, clearly. I mean, the loss is on me. It's all on me. It's one inning where I got out of sync, and I couldn't correct it. They took advantage. I walked three, and then a little base hit over the third baseman's head. That's it."
Tagged for six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss at Wrigley Field on June 19, Giolito fared no better this time.
The right-hander lost control in the fifth, walking Robel Garcia, David Bote and Addison Russell to load the bases. Schwarber then blooped a two-run double off the end of the bat down the left-field line.
He stood near home plate for a split-second looking for the ball, heard people yelling and figured he had better hustle with thoughts of a potential triple play flashing in his head.
"Oh, 100 per cent," he said. "One hundred per cent. I kind of freaked out for a second. And then, I saw (it) and was relieved."
Báez followed with a hard smash past third baseman Yoán Moncada for another two-run double, chasing Giolito. Anthony Rizzo added an RBI single against Evan Marshall, and the Cubs drew five walks while sending 10 batters to the plate in the inning.
Moncada extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games with two doubles, scored two runs and drove in one. But the White Sox lost their second straight after winning five of six.
ROBERT MOVING UP
The White Sox are promoting prized outfielder Luis Robert from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte.
General manager Rick Hahn said the team will make the move after the MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday. The 21-year-old Robert has hit .314 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 56 games for Birmingham after moving up from Class A. The White Sox signed the Cuban in May 2017.
Cubs: OF Jason Heyward started in centre field after being held out of the lineup the previous two games due to back tightness and was 0 for 4. ... Manager Joe Maddon said the Cubs haven't decided when RHP Carl Edwards Jr. (left thoracic strain) will rejoin the team.
White Sox: 2B Yolmer Sanchez started and went 1 for 4 after leaving Thursday's game against Detroit with a lacerated right hand.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-6, 3.45 ERA) gets the ball again after being limited to three innings because of rain in a loss at Pittsburgh last week. He had been sidelined for about two weeks because of right shoulder inflammation.
White Sox: RHP Iván Nova (3-7, 5.92) is 0-4 with an 8.31 ERA in seven starts at Guaranteed Rate Field this season.
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