Zach Stewart got roughed up for four homers in his spot start on Monday night, and the Cubs tagged reliever Nate Jones with five consecutive hits including a homer in a six-run seventh inning, rolling to a 12-3 win against the White Sox before 33,215 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
Before the smallest crowd to see a Cubs-Sox game, it was the largest margin of defeat this season for the Sox (35-32), who were coming off a 2-4 road trip in St. Louis and Los Angeles, lost for the first time in four games against the Cubs. The Sox lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central was cut to a half game as they lost for the fifth time in six games.
For Chris Sale and Jake Peavy in particular, Stewart was inserted into the rotation to give an extra day of rest or two to the Sox starters.
"I've done it before. It's nothing that should have fazed me too much or anything,'' Stewart said. "A few opportunities that came about and I didn't make the pitch. They did what they were supposed to do with it.''
He retired eight of the first 10 Cubs he faced before Starlin Castro singled and Bryan LaHair homered with two outs in the third. Castro and Alfonso Soriano each hit two-run homers in the fifth, Soriano's traveling 440-feet to center field.
Stewart (1-2) has allowed 10 home runs in 30 innings pitched. Sox pitchers gave up 15 hits.
"He just couldn't' get that third out,'' manager Robin Ventura said. "They were swinging it. It was a night [the ball] was carrying, and [the Cubs] put it on the barrel a lot. Yesterday's [2-1 loss to the Dodgers in 10 innings is] the one that stings. Today, you just get beat. You can rally back and come back tomorrow.''
A.J. Pierzynski hit his 12th home run and Paul Konerko his 13th, a two-run shot in the sixth that cut the Sox deficit to 6-3 against Cubs starter Matt Garza. The Sox were held to six hits on a blustery night with wind gusts up to 41 mph blowing toward left field.
"I just made a few bad pitches and pitches I wouldn't want to make in those situations and they did their job,'' Stewart said.
"It's not too discouraging. Obviously you want to pull out a victory or a better start than that but it's one of those things that you take something from it, learn from it and hopefully do better in the next one.''