CHICAGO -- The White Sox had no shortage of baserunners against Yankees ace CC Sabathia on Monday night, but the left-hander battled his way out of trouble inning after inning, handing Chicago its third straight loss, 3-2, at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Yankees (65-42) staked Sabathia to a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound, scoring a pair of first-inning runs off White Sox starter Jake Peavy, who actually got stronger as the game went on, unlike in recent outings. He allowed just one other run over seven innings.
Playing without first baseman Paul Konerko, who left Sunday's game after being hit by a pitch on the left knee, the White Sox couldn't cross the plate against Sabathia outside of a two-run homer by shortstop Alexei Ramirez in the fourth inning, which cut New York's lead to 3-2. Despite recording 10 hits in eight innings off of Sabathia, the White Sox couldn't come up with a timely hit, as Sabathia constantly pitched his way out of trouble, including twice in the later innings against Adam Dunn.
Ramirez laced a one-out double with the White Sox trailing, 3-2, in the sixth, but Sabathia (16-5) struck out Dunn two batters later to end the inning. Sabathia again squared off against Dunn with a runner on and two outs in the eighth and again struck out the White Sox designated hitter, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and is now just 3-for-77 against lefties this season.
"I mean, you know [his power] is there and he's just having a tough year," Sabathia said of Dunn. "You don't want to make mistakes, you don't want to give in, you don't want to get lazy and make a pitch that you'll regret. I know he hadn't hit lefties really good this year, so, like I said, I was just trying to make pitches and I ended up getting him in some tough spots."
"There's only so much you can do," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of his teammate's struggles. "You've got to put the work in, and he's done that. He's put the time in, and he's trying to make adjustments. But facing CC Sabathia tonight, he's one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball. His last at-bat, he went 98 [mph], 98 and a 75-mph slider to strike him out. Tip your hat to the other guy."
Even before Dunn had a chance to steal the game for the South Siders, the White Sox had squandered plenty of chances against Sabathia, hitting into three inning-ending double plays.
After Pierzynski grounded into a double play to end the second, the White Sox lined into inning-ending double plays in both the third and fifth innings. The fifth started with back-to-back singles by Pierzynski and Gordon Beckham, but Brent Lillibridge popped out on a sacrifice bunt attempt and Brent Morel hit a liner right at shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who flipped to Robinson Cano to double off Pierzynski at second.
"I think the bunt was big for the game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't know what could have happened there, but I think that was huge. We don't put the ball down with the bunt and there were a couple of line drives. We swung the bat good against [Sabathia]. We had a couple of good hits, but we don't take advantage with people on base."
Along with the three double plays, the White Sox left five more runners on base, going just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. In their last five games, the White Sox are just 3-for-24 in those situations, and they scored three runs or fewer in each of those contests.
"It's a shame," Pierzynski said. "We had some runners, we got a bunch of hits, but we hit a couple of line drives right at guys that turned into double plays. It's just one of those nights where it just didn't work out."
Sabathia repeatedly pitching his way out of jams overshadowed an outing by Peavy (4-5) that Guillen called the right-hander's best since a June 25 relief appearance against the Nationals.
Aside from the two first-inning runs, Peavy allowed just one other run on a Cano double-play groundout in the third inning. Peavy, who fell to 0-4 in his last six starts, struck out four in seven innings while allowing eight hits, six of which came in the first three innings.
"In the beginning of the game, he was a little off, but he came out and got stronger," Guillen said. "We know our players. We know what he can do, what he can't. He threw a heck of a ballgame -- a very, very good one."
"I made good pitches early," said Peavy, who threw 82 of his 115 pitches in the first four innings. "That game could have flip-flopped early and went our way. The ball didn't bounce our way, and it bounced theirs. That's just the bottom line."
Even Peavy's performance wasn't enough to stop the White Sox from dropping to three games below .500 at 52-55 and 4 1/2 games behind the idle first-place Tigers in the American League Central. Chicago sits 2 1/2 games behind the second-place Indians.
"The pitching's been really good, and we're not helping them out much," Beckham said. "But we've just got to keep showing up and doing what we're doing. I really believe we can get on a roll here, so obviously, you don't want to lose games, but against a guy like that, we battled and we just came up short."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.