CHICAGO (AP) — Boston’s rotation woes continued. And the rebuilding Chicago White Sox took full advantage.
James Shields threw six scoreless innings, Tim Anderson and Daniel Palka homered and the White Sox beat the major league-leading Red Sox 8-0 on Sunday to split their four-game series.
Anderson had three hits — including two doubles — for the White Sox, who have won seven of their last 10 games.
Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez had two hits apiece for Boston, which had won four of its last five.
The Red Sox have the majors’ best record at 94-44 and maintained a 7¢-game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees, who lost to Detroit.
With Chris Sale and David Price out with injuries, the Red Sox have just two quality starts in their last 17 games. Their starting pitchers combined to allow 12 earned runs in 14 innings in the series.
“We’re going to be fine,” manager Alex Cora said. “When you start getting hurt, especially your main guys, it’s not easy to go out there with the guys that we’re throwing and keep throwing the ball well.
“They did it for a month and a half right after the All-Star break. Now it’s not that way. I feel the healthier we get, the better it’s going to be.”
Shields (6-15) struck out six and allowed four hits and two walks. He has thrown at least six innings in 21 of his last 25 starts. Three relievers completed the five-hitter.
Five Red Sox pitchers combined to strike out 12 but gave up 15 hits.
“We have the right guys in the bullpen to help us out as far as innings and all that, and I think it’s going to turn around because of that,” Cora said.
Brian Johnson (4-4) allowed four runs and seven hits while recording four outs in his shortest start of the season.
“I threw a lot of strikes, but they weren’t where I wanted them,” Johnson said. “Fastball wasn’t cutting and my curveball had nothing on it.”
Anderson hit his 18th home run this season on the first pitch with one out in the first inning. Kevan Smith’s single added another run.
Matt Davidson’s two-run double chased Johnson in the second.
The White Sox extended their lead to 5-0 on Adam Engel’s single off Bobby Poyner in the third inning.
Palka smacked his 20th home run in the fourth off William Cuevas — four pitches after he hit a long drive just foul and completed a jog around the bases before heading back to the plate.
“It was funny because the bat boy went to give me a high-five and I was like, ‘Just give me the bat,’” Palka said.
“I thought it was foul by 20 feet and when he said ‘fair,’ I was like, ‘I’ll take it.’ He kind of gave me the same pitch 3-2 and I stayed back just enough.”
Cubs 8, Phillies 1
PHILADELPHIA — Javier Baez hit one of three solo home runs off Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, and Jon Lester pitched six shutout innings to continue his mastery of the Phillies and help lead the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs to an 8-1 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday.
Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rizzo also went deep off Nola (15-4), who gave up three home runs in a game for just the second time over 88 starts in his four-year career.
Lester (15-5) surrendered eight hits, struck out seven and walked none while improving to 8-0 with a 1.49 ERA in 10 career regular-season starts against the Phillies.
Chicago, which has won 10 of 12, began play leading the Cardinals by 4 ¢ games.
Blue Jays 6, Marlins 1
MIAMI — Sean Reid-Foley struck out 10 over seven innings and earned his first major league win in pitching the Toronto Blue Jays over the Miami Marlins 6-1 on Sunday.
Teoscar Hernandez hit a three-run homer and former Amsterdam Mohawk Luke Maile had three doubles for the Blue Jays.
Reid-Foley (1-2) allowed one run and four hits with one walk in his third major league start. The 23-year-old righty struck out the side in the first inning and worked himself out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the fifth with just one run scoring.
Thomas Pannone pitched the final two innings for Toronto.