CHICAGO — A firecracker dud produces more excitement than the Yankees did on the Fourth of July.
After grinding out a victory late Sunday afternoon against the lowly Padres to avoid a three-game sweep, the Yankees traveled two time zones east and didn’t do much of anything well Monday in an 8-2 matinee loss to the White Sox in front of 30,955 at U.S. Cellular Field.
It was the 32nd time in 82 games that the Yankees scored two or fewer runs in a game. They are 4-28 in those games.
CC Sabathia (5-6), less than three weeks ago among the AL leaders in ERA, turned in a third straight poor start, allowing five runs and eight hits, including two homers, in six innings. He has allowed 16 earned runs (including four home runs) in 17 1⁄3 innings in his last three starts, pushing his ERA from 2.20 to 3.48.
“The stuff is good, the stuff is there, but it’s just not executing pitches when I need to,” said Sabathia, who did strike out nine. “It’s three in a row where I haven’t pitched well. I can’t keep the ball in the ballpark . . . It’s incredibly frustrating. We came out, had the lead early, and I couldn’t hold it.”
Joe Girardi, whose rotation has staggered as the Yankees (40-42) have dropped six of nine, said of Sabathia: “I thought his stuff was much better than his numbers indicated, but that’s baseball. You have to make pitches all the time.”
The Yankees’ offense — other than Starlin Castro, who had four hits, and Chase Headley, whose two-run homer in the second made it 2-0 — blew myriad scoring chances throughout the day.
The Yankees, 1-3 on this three-city, 10-game trip, were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against righthander James Shields and were 0-for-13 for the game. They stranded 11.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Girardi said. “They got the hits when they needed them; we didn’t. We had plenty of opportunities.”
Shields, who came in 3-9 with a 5.85 ERA, was far from sharp but survived six innings, allowing two runs and five hits.
The White Sox (43-40) had 13 hits, three by Todd Frazier, who reached base in all five plate appearances.
After Sabathia stranded two in the bottom of the first, Headley gave the lefthander a lead in the second.
Castro, in a 6-for-34 slide coming in, singled with one out. After Didi Gregorius lined to right, Headley lined a 1-and-0 cutter into the seats in right for his sixth homer of the season to make it 2-0.
Sabathia provided a nine-pitch shutdown inning in the bottom half, striking out two, but he was not as fortunate in the third. Jason Coats singled and Tim Anderson blasted a first-pitch fastball to center for his fourth homer of the season, tying it at 2.
The Yankees squandered a chance to retake the lead in the fourth. Brian McCann singled with one out and went to third on Castro’s double down the leftfield line. McCann stayed at third as Gregorius grounded to first and, after Headley walked on four pitches to load the bases, Aaron Hicks flied to right.
Frazier doubled with one out in the fifth and scored on Brett Lawrie’s sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-2. Dioner Navarro followed with a two-run homer for a 5-2 lead.
The White Sox added three runs (two earned) against Luis Cessa in the seventh and eighth innings to make it 8-2.
The Yankees stranded five in the final three innings.
“It’s frustrating,” said Brett Gardner, who went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. “It’s a tough day today, complete turnaround with the day game [Sunday in San Diego] and the time change and all that, but that’s part of it. Hopefully, we get some rest tonight and are ready to go tomorrow.”