CHICAGO -- Dealing with left-handed pitching has been an Achilles' heel for the Mariners all season, and the White Sox exploited that again Sunday as Carlos Rodon hurled six-plus innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
Rodon surrendered the lone run on Robinson Cano's solo shot in the sixth and allowed five hits as he improved to 5-8 with a 3.91 ERA. Rodon is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 26 strikeouts and seven walks over his past five starts covering 30 2/3 innings. The Mariners are 20-28 against southpaw starters this season, including a loss the previous night against lefty Jose Quintana, compared to 48-34 against righties.
"Carlos is really evolving," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "As he goes along, he just seems to be getting better -- there's more confidence there. He's learning a lot about himself as well, going through these. He gets extended somewhat, he's in there for a while, he's seeing these guys the third time around, which is good for him. He has the stuff to be able to do that and continue to do that, really. The future's really bright for him."
Recent offensive struggles are proving costly to Seattle's postseason hopes, as the Mariners fell to 68-62 with their fifth loss in the past six games, having scored just 14 runs in that span. After losing three of four to the White Sox, Seattle finds itself three games back of Baltimore for the second American League Wild Card spot as it heads to Texas for a three-game set.
"Obviously, people like to stack [lefties] up against us, thinking they can equalize the [Mariners' left-handed heavy lineup]," manager Scott Servais said. "Lefties have been tough on us all year. There is no doubt there. We've got to figure out a way. We'll see a couple more in Texas, and we need to get after it there."
The White Sox added two more in the eighth on an RBI triple by Melky Cabrera and sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu and have now won six of their past eight, improving to 63-66.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Beat the shift: Walker didn't help his cause in the fourth by hitting Adam Eaton and Abreu with pitches, but he certainly didn't give up much hard contact during the two-run frame. Cabrera doubled on a high fly ball down the right-field line that fell in front of right fielder Franklin Gutierrez with the Mariners having him shaded defensively toward left. And Morneau's two-run single would have been an inning-ending double play if not for the pronounced shift employed by the Mariners, with shortstop Ketel Marte standing almost behind second.
"Where we're aligned and Guti's range, balls are hit in good spots, for them, not for us," Servais said. "Unfortunately, he just wasn't able to get there."
The big three-oh: Cano became just the fifth second baseman in AL history with more than one 30-homer season to his name when he reached the right-field seats in the sixth inning with a line drive off Rodon to cut the lead to 2-1. Cano joins Alfonso Soriano (three times) and Bret Boone, Joe Gordon, and Ian Kinsler (two each) in the multiple 30-homer club. He's now three shy of his career-best 33 homers in 2012 while with the Yankees and five short of the number he hit in his first two seasons in Seattle combined.
"You dream that," Cano said of the 30-homer mark. "You want to do that as a hitter. But in the situation we are in right now, you know me. It doesn't matter how good I do or how good I play, if we don't win, it doesn't really make sense. You're still down, and that's the situation we're in right now."
De-fense: The White Sox defense shut down any scoring chance in the seventh for the Mariners after the first two batters reached base on singles. Chris Beck replaced Rodon and recorded a one-pitch out when Mike Zunino bunted into a force at second, fielded by third baseman Todd Frazier. Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings replaced Beck, with left-handed hitting pinch-hitter Adam Lind announced, and also needed one pitch to end the inning. He retired Lind on a double-play grounder started by a great defensive grab and pivot on the throw by second baseman Tyler Saladino.
"Just anticipated, and he hit it and it worked out good," Saladino said. More >
Left standing: The Mariners didn't take advantage of the few chances they had against Rodon. Kyle Seager ripped a one-out triple in the second, but he was stranded there when Rodon struck out Franklin Gutierrez and Zunino. They also left a pair on in the fifth when Ketel Marte grounded out for the final out. Lind's double-play grounder in the seventh was costly, and White Sox closer David Robertson stranded two in the ninth to cap a day where Seattle went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"We just didn't get much going offensively," Servais said. "You have to get hits with runners in scoring position. Our pitching was really good today. I can't say enough about Taijuan. He really stood up. And their guy was good, too. It was a tight game; we just didn't get hits at the end."
"Hopefully not facing those guys will help. Those are three really tough lefties in a row, and that's tough for anybody. There's nothing we can do about these games now. These games are over. We've got a big series with Texas, and we're looking forward to that." -- Seager, on the Mariners' struggles the past three games against All-Star southpaws Chris Sale and Quintana, plus Rodon
"It's fun. Winning is fun. Playing well is fun." -- Jennings, on the White Sox winning six of their last eight
"One of the oldest cliches is, 'One day at a time.' I've said this a couple days ago, I've been on teams with eight games back, I think [James] Shields said that he was on a team with 10 1/2 games back going into Sept. 1. Anything's possible. It'll take a lot, but we do it one day at a time, one game at a time." -- Morneau
TRIPLE YOUR PLEASURE
Cabrera's triple was his first since July 20 at Seattle, covering 33 games and 147 plate appearances.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners:Hisashi Iwakuma opens a key three-game series against the AL West-leading Rangers on Monday at 5:05 p.m PT in Arlington. Iwakuma faces Yu Darvish for the third time in their Major League careers and first since 2013, with the two Japanese standouts having each won one of the prior meetings.
White Sox:James Shields makes his 16th start for the White Sox and 27th this season in Monday's series opener at Detroit at 6:10 p.m. CT, the start of a seven-game road trip. Shields is 0-4 with a 13.95 ERA over his past five starts and 0-4 with a 10.63 ERA in his past seven road starts. He has allowed 22 home runs in 75 2/3 innings pitched for the White Sox.