Happ K's 10 to lead Blue Jays over White Sox

Happ K's 10 to lead Blue Jays over White Sox

CHICAGO -- J.A. Happ set a season-high 10 strikeouts and put together his best start in almost a month to bolster the Blue Jays to a 5-1 win and series victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Happ handled the White Sox -- who capped off an eight-game homestand at 2-6 -- after a rocky first inning, at one point retiring nine in a row until Chicago broke through for its only run on a Leury Garcia RBI single in the sixth. He struck out the side in the seventh, giving him his seventh career double-digit strikeout game and first since July 30, 2016. He matched a season high with seven innings pitched, allowing a run on six hits before giving way to the bullpen. Roberto Osuna, who blew the save Monday, earned his 27th save of the season.

"I felt like we were using everything and throwing everything for strikes," said Happ, who grew up in Illinois. "It's always fun to come back to Chicago. We had a big group here today, a lot of friends and family in town, so it feels good to obviously get the win and get out of here, but to pitch in front of them, too."

Josh Donaldson homered for the third time in as many games this series. The shot, a 438-foot blast off White Sox reliever Chris Beck according to Statcast™, was his second-longest homer of the season after Statcast™ tracked his homer Tuesday at 441 feet. Donaldson had been slugging .463 entering Wednesday, his lowest mark since arriving in Toronto in 2015. It was his first stretch of three straight games with a homer since Aug. 3-5, 2015.

Donaldson's solo home run

White Sox left-hander Derek Holland -- in the midst of an admittedly frustrating stretch in which he'd posted a 9.46 ERA and allowed 17 homers over his previous 10 starts -- had his first quality start since June 25. He went six innings, allowing a pair of runs on a Justin Smoak RBI double and a solo shot from Steve Pearce. Each of his past four quality starts have now come at Guaranteed Rate Field.

"It is only one start. I'm not going to sit here and get super excited," Holland said. "I still have to continue to keep pitching. Being consistent is what it's all about. The main thing is we found what we needed to do, and we continue to keep fighting through it all. Today was a good start for us when we needed it, bouncing-back-wise."

Holland escapes bases-loaded jam

The White Sox have now lost 19 of their past 23 games and are 3-15 since the All-Star break, sitting at 41-64 -- their lowest mark after Aug. 2 since they were 40-67 in 2013.

"Honestly today, I'm not thinking about 19 games," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "I'm just thinking about today. I'm not even thinking about the last 23. I'm just thinking about today and what went right and what went wrong. In terms of how they combat it, I hope they do it as we've talked about, like a closer does. You don't come out on top, you've got to put it to bed."

Renteria on the 5-1 loss

White Sox focus on positives amid tough stretch

Held Up: The White Sox had a great chance to jump on Happ early and open the scoring. After Tim Anderson led off the first with an infield single and Jose Abreu drew a walk, Kevan Smith hit a single through the left side that could have scored the fleet-footed Anderson. Interim third-base coach Ever Magallanes held Anderson up, however, electing not to test Pearce's arm in left field and loading the bases with one out. Nicky Delmonico struck out and Garcia grounded out as Chicago came up empty.

Happ dances around trouble

"All in all, we did leave [10] runners on base," Renteria said. "We had a couple of opportunities, left some guys out there."

"I think it's just trusting that you're a pitch away, trying to make one pitch at a time," Happ said. "The first inning was challenging the way it unfolded, and then I was able to get the big strikeout and get out of there after that. That was good to get out of there without any damage and kind of refocus and regroup."

Just out of reach: With runners on the corners and one away in the eighth, White Sox reliever Jake Petricka got just what he needed -- a double-play ball. Instead, Russell Martin, who came in when Miguel Montero sustained a strained right groin, got the grounder just past a diving Anderson for an RBI single that extended the Blue Jays' lead to 3-1.

Martin's RBI single

The White Sox series loss against the Blue Jays was their fifth in a row at home, their longest stretch since May 17-June 12, 2016. It also snapped a White Sox franchise-record streak of five consecutive season series wins against the Blue Jays.

This was the first time that Toronto won a series in Chicago since June 5-7, 2012.

Montero led off the top of the fifth inning with a slow roller that White Sox third baseman Tyler Saladino was able to scoop up and throw over to first baseman Abreu. Montero was initially ruled safe with an infield single, but the White Sox challenged the call, and it was overturned after a 45-second review. The White Sox were able to retain their challenge.

Saladino's barehanded play

With no one out in the eighth, Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar slapped a single into right field. Anderson saw Pillar too far off the bag rounding first, and he cut off Garcia's throw and got the ball over to Abreu in time to apply the tag. The Blue Jays challenged, and the out call was overturned after a replay that lasted one minute and 45 seconds. Toronto retained its challenge and had runners on first and third with nobody out.

Pillar singles, safe at first

Blue Jays: Right-hander Cesar Valdez (1-0, 5.00 ERA) will make his third start of the season when the Blue Jays open a three-game series against the Astros on Friday at Minute Maid Park, with first pitch scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET. Valdez allowed seven runs over two-plus innings during his last start vs. the Angels.

White Sox: Miguel Gonzalez (5-9, 4.59 ERA) will look to continue his run of three consecutive quality starts as he takes the mound for the first of a four-game set at Fenway Park on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT.

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Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.