CHICAGO — Jeff Samardzija realizes that if he continues to pitch well, it will pay off — eventually. For now, though, the Chicago White Sox's ace remains in a frustrating holding pattern.
Gerrit Cole became the majors' first 11-game winner and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the struggling White Sox 3-2 on Thursday to extend their winning streak to a season-high eight games. Chicago saw its losing streak reach seven games.
The White Sox offense didn't do Samardzija - who is winless over his last five starts - any favors. In those five starts, Samardzija has gotten just 18 runs of support.
"You try to keep your head on straight," said Samardzija, who struck out seven and didn't give up a walk while scattering 10 hits. "You know you're pitching well, you know you have great stuff and it's doing what you want it to, but sometimes, the ball has different ideas."
Jung Ho Kang went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, and Josh Harrison and Gregory Polanco each drove in a run for Pittsburgh.
Cole (11-2) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings, and has won each of his last six starts while giving up two runs or less in each on his way to his 11 victories.
"I take pride in going out there and competing every fifth day," Cole said. "But at the same time, those guys are giving me everything they've got out there."
Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his 23rd save.
Geovany Soto hit a solo home run for the White Sox, which only could muster three hits and dropped to 5-30 in games this season when they score three runs or fewer. With the losing streak at seven, frustration has become evident around Chicago's clubhouse.
"We are out here grinding and fighting every day to get the win," Soto said. "I feel we are in the same boat and everybody is pulling the same way. It's going to turn around."
Jake Petricka (1-2) took the loss in relief of Samardzija.
After Soto's solo shot tied the game at 2 in the seventh, Pittsburgh answered back in the eighth. Kang singled with one out off Petricka and advanced to third on a single by Pedro Alvarez. Polanco hit a slow chopper to second base and Gordon Beckham's only play was to throw to first base for the out as Kang scored to make it 3-2.
"We couldn't get anything going offensively," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Even when we had a shot there with guys in scoring position, we didn't do anything with it. Obviously, we have to be able to fix that and mount something more than just a couple (of runs)."
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The evidence of the White Sox's skid showed up in a sloppy defensive showing when center fielder Adam Eaton and shortstop Alexei Ramirez allowed a catchable bloop single by Corey Hart to fall in between them. Although nothing came of the miscue, which occurred with the White Sox trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, Ventura was clearly bothered by the miscommunication.
"That's just bad," Ventura said. Asked what needs to happen in that instance and who should have taken charge, Ventura was quick with his solution. "They need to catch it," he said. "That's what they need to do."
Pirates: 2B Neil Walker wasn't in the lineup because of a stomach ailment. ... RHP Jameson Taillon, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, had a five-inning, 74-pitch outing Thursday in extended spring training.
Pirates: Open a three-game series at Washington on Friday. Veteran RHP A.J. Burnett (6-2, 1.89 ERA), who had a no-decision in his last start despite tossing nine scoreless innings, will be matched against RHP Joe Ross (1-3, 3.46).
White Sox: The homestand continues as Chicago hosts the Texas Rangers for a three-game series over the weekend. LHP Chris Sale (6-3, 3.01 ERA) pitches the opener for the White Sox on Friday night against RHP Colby Lewis (6-3, 4.37 ERA) of the Rangers.