The White Sox got back from the All-Star break and found a rested and ready Wade LeBlanc waiting for them.
The Sox got a run in the first off the Mariners starter but couldn’t muster much else the rest of the way as they started the second half of the season with a 3-1 loss Friday night.
“I know Wade. I had him a few years ago (in San Diego),” Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s pitching the same way: very effective, very confident. He knows what to do. … He can command the zone quite a bit. That’s what he did (Friday).”
The White Sox (33-63) struck early when an RBI double from Daniel Palka scored Leury Garcia in the top of the first. The lead was short lived, however, as the Mariners tied the score in the bottom half of the inning on a Nelson Cruz sacrifice fly.
After the first inning, opportunities were few and far between for the Sox against LeBlanc (6-1, 3.44 ERA). The left-hander went 7 1/3 innings, tied his career high with 10 strikeouts and allowed just four hits.
The Sox, who have dropped six consecutive road games and six of their last seven contests against the Mariners, threatened in the eighth after LeBlanc was pulled with runners on first and second with one out, but Mariners reliever Alex Colome got Tim Anderson and Garcia to fly out to end the inning.
Edwin Diaz closed the game out for the Mariners (59-39) to earn his 37th save of the season, the most in the majors.
Sox starter James Shields (4-11, 4.26) kept the pitchers’ duel with LeBlanc close. The veteran right-hander scattered seven hits and allowed just one earned run in seven innings. Four of those hits came off the bat of Mariners leadoff hitter Dee Gordon.
“I felt I was locating pitches tonight,” Shields said. “That’s a good lineup over there. They are a really good baseball team. LeBlanc did a good job on the other side.
“Unfortunately we got the loss.”
Shields, who struck out five, has allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven of his last eight starts.
“Tremendous outing by James,” Renteria said. “He kept us in there. … It’s what he’s been doing quite a bit now for us this season. As I was mentioning, his record doesn’t reflect his performance. He’s really been throwing the ball really, really well.”
It was career start No. 393 for Shields, who has found himself the subject of trade rumors as the July 31 deadline approaches.
“I’ve been in this game a long time. I understand the business part,” Shields said. “But I only can control what I can control and that’s go out every five days and pitch the best I can for my team I’m playing for right now. So, I’m going to go out every five days and pitch my game and see what happens.”
The Mariners took the lead on an RBI ground out by Ryon Healy in the fourth. They added their final run on an RBI single by Cruz in the eighth off reliever Juan Minaya.
Yolmer Sanchez batted 2-for-3 to lead the Sox.
David Krueger is a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune.