ANAHEIM — Johnny Cueto was 4-0 with a 1.34 ERA in five career starts against the Angels and was 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA in four road starts this season going into the White Sox game at Angel Stadium Tuesday.
Something did not have to give as far as the Sox were concerned. Not after losing five of their previous six games. But it almost did.
Cueto gave up home runs to Andrew Velazquez, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the third inning, putting the Sox in a 3-0 hole. It was the 23rd homer for Trout, who was 3-for-19 against the Sox before the at-bat. Ohtani has 17.
But Cueto pitched a perfect fourth after that big inning, striking out Brandon Marsh and Velazquez before the Sox erupted for five runs in the fifth on Seby Zavala’s RBI double and a pair of two-run homers by ninth-place hitter Josh Harrison and Luis Robert, the latter carrying 448 feet and breaking a 3-all tie.
Robert doubled and scored on Jose Abreu’s two-run double in the seventh giving the Sox a 7-3 cushion. Meanwhile, Cueto faced two batters over the minimum in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“Great heart. Great sense for pitching,” manager Tony La Russa said of the 36-year-old Cueto, who took a 1-4 record with a 3.19 ERA into his eighth start. “Just gotta score some runs.”
La Russa was alluding to a trend Cueto could do without. He received one or no runs of support in five of his seven starts, and the Sox opened the game with four scoreless innings against Angels righty Chase Silseth, who was recalled from Double-A Rocket City to make his fifth start of the season.
But Cueto exited after six innings with a 10-3 lead. He has pitched six or more innings in seven of eight starts. He allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out five.
The Sox had 17 hits through eight innings and led 11-4. Harrison, Robert and Abreu had three each and Moncada, Zavala, Leury Garcia and Harrison each had two. Harrison had three RBI, and Robert, Abreu, Moncada and Zavala had two each.
Sosa to Charlotte
Infielder LenynSosa, who was 1-for-12 with a double in four games including three starts after his contract was selected from Double-A Birmingham on Thursday, was optioned to Charlotte to make room for Yoan Moncada, who came off the injured list.
La Russa said Sosa wasn’t going to play every day and leaving him up would “impede his progress.”
“He’s made the right impression, but he needs to play,” La Russa said.
Through four plate appearances Tuesday, Harrison had hit safely in 12 of his last 16 games, going 19-for-51 (.373) with two homers, a triple, double, 10 RBI, three walks and three hit by pitches.
The defense rests
The Sox ranked last in the AL with a .980 fielding percentage and allowed an MLB-high 51 unearned runs through Monday. They were 23-14 when errorless and 11-24 when they made one or more errors.
This and that
Closer Liam Hendriks is slated for a simulated game Friday in San Francisco and could come off the injured list (forearm flexor strain) for the home stand that starts Monday against the Twins, La Russa said.
*Outfielder Adam Haseley, who has been under the weather according to La Russa, was expected to rejoin the team Tuesday night or Wednesday.