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Bichette slam, Kirk HR as Blue Jays beat Chisox, avoid sweep

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Chicago White Sox starter Lucas Giolito delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

CHICAGO (AP) — Bo Bichette hit a grand slam and Alejandro Kirk homered for the second straight game, leading Ross Stripling and the Toronto Blue Jays over the injury-riddled Chicago White Sox 9-5 Wednesday.

Bichette’s second career slam capped a five-run fourth inning as the Blue Jays avoided a three-game series sweep.

“Bo and everyone else, it was great to see the mindset this morning,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I wish you guys could have seen it. Like everyone said, ‘let’s go. Let’s turn the page.’ It’s not easy for young guys, but they did a good job of that.”

Kirk hit an RBI single in the first and a homer to center in the third. He tops All-Star fan voting for AL catchers and leads all qualified major league catchers in batting average (.307) and OPS (.857).

Kirk batted .364 (8 for 22) with four home runs and eight RBIs in five games against the White Sox this season.

Lucas Giolito (4-4) allowed seven runs on a season-high 11 hits in five innings. He has a 9.47 ERA in his last five starts.

“There’s no excuse for how I’ve been performing,’ Giolito said. “It’s pretty god-awful.”

Kirk is 4 for 9 with three home runs and six RBIs lifetime against Giolito.

Stripling (4-2) gave up one run in six innings. He scattered five hits and didn’t allow a runner past second until Josh Harrison scored from first on a single by Luis Robert in the sixth.

Stripling has allowed 12 hits over his last 20 2/3 innings, posting a 1.31 ERA in his last four starts.

“If you don’t have overpowering stuff, you can command your pitches,” said Montoyo, who said reliever Yimi Garcia was unavailable because of left side discomfort. “He’s been doing it and is really good. His (pitch counts) have been down because people make contact.”

The White Sox collected seven hits in the final three innings after Stripling departed. They scored three times in the eighth and brought the potential tying run to the plate, but Leury Garcia grounded out.

Robert extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He moved slowly running to first and stayed there even after his hit skipped past left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and eventually left the game in the eighth.

The White Sox were stretched at shortstop. Tim Anderson, who returned Monday after missing 18 games because of a right groin strain, didn’t play under doctor’s orders, manager Tony La Russa said before the game.

White Sox shortstop Danny Mendick left after colliding with left fielder Adam Haseley on a foul pop in the second and left due to right knee discomfort. Garcia, who had been sidelined for the last four games because of side discomfort, replaced him.

Right fielder Adam Engel left after three innings because of right hamstring soreness.

La Russa said Robert, Mendick and Engel underwent MRIs after the game.

“It was a good time to get (Robert) out of there,” La Russa said.

“When he doesn’t go (after) balls to the wall, he doesn’t go to second, you know he’s feeling some ouchies there.”

EARLY EXIT

Blue Jays hitting coach Guillermo Martinez was ejected during the pregame lineup exchange.

TRANSACTIONS

White Sox: RHP Matt Foster was reinstated from the bereavement list. RHP Davis Martin was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: OF George Springer didn’t play because of right elbow discomfort.

White Sox: 1B Jose Abreu (hip) was relegated to designated hitter duties. ... OF Eloy Jiménez (right hamstring tendon tear), on a rehab assignment at Charlotte, sent La Russa a text message indicating he was feeling better. “So better means it’s different than ‘I’m ready to come back,’” La Russa said.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: RHP Alex Manoah (8-2, 2.00) will face the Brewers on Friday in Milwaukee. Manoah allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-2 loss Saturday to the Yankees.

White Sox: RHP Johnny Cueto (1-3, 2.95) will face the Orioles in Thursday’s series opener. Cueto pitched seven innings of two-hit ball Saturday in a 7-0 victory over the Astros.

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Mark Gonzales, The Associated Press