Tim Anderson and José Abreu singled in the first inning for the Chicago White Sox against Shohei Ohtani.
Anderson reached third and Abreu second on a wild pitch. But the Los Angeles Angels two-way star struck out Gavin Sheets to end the threat.
The Sox had another big opportunity in the fourth, loading the bases. But Ohtani struck out Josh Harrison for the third out.
The Sox made Ohtani work but they couldn’t cash in Wednesday, falling 4-1 in front of 27,612 at Angel Stadium.
“We didn’t put the ball in play enough,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “That’s to their credit. Their pitching was good.”
The Sox struck out 15 times as they dropped the rubber match of the three-game series.
“We got it going, just key times they made a pitch and we didn’t put it in play,” La Russa said.
Wednesday was billed as a showcase pitching matchup between Sox starter Michael Kopech and Ohtani. And both had numbers good enough to win.
“Obviously he’s a superstar,” Kopech said of Ohtani. “We have to be prepared coming into that on both sides of the ball with a guy like that. And for the most part, I was able to stay in control of that and work counts with him (Ohtani went 0-for-3 with a walk). I might not have been as efficient as I would have liked, but I was able to stay in the driver’s seat with him there.
“He did a great job on the mound tonight. Kind of answered all of his own problems or his team’s own problems that they may have struggled with offensively, and they had a couple of big hits and came through for him. It’s quite a matchup like that, but I would like to see my best stuff on a day like that.”
Kopech allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks in 5⅓ innings.
“It was kind of a grind,” he said. “I started off making a few mistakes that got taken advantage of. And then toward the end where I really needed to bear down and make some tough pitches, didn’t make those pitches and I got taken advantage of. I’ve got to do a better job of putting us in control and being in the driver’s seat a little bit.
“I’ve been putting the team in a position where we have to fight all night long, and I can’t continue to do that.”
Ohtani gave up five hits, struck out 11 and walked one in 5⅔ scoreless innings.
“I thought we worked the at-bats,” La Russa said. “And then we did a better job of making the at-bats go longer. But he’s got weapons. He’s for real.”
The first two Angels batters scored in the first. Taylor Ward singled and Mike Trout drove him in with a double.
With runners on first and second, Jared Walsh hit a grounder to Abreu. The first baseman threw to second to get an out, but the return throw got past Kopech as he tried to time getting the ball and the bag. Trout scored on the sequence, making it 2-0.
Luis Robert and Abreu singled to begin the fourth. Sheets hit the ball hard, but Trout made a running catch in center for the first out. Ohtani struck out AJ Pollock but walked Leury García to load the bases.
Ohtani then struck out Harrison on five pitches.
Abreu collected his third of four hits, a one-out single, in the sixth. Ohtani struck out Sheets and exited, having thrown 108 pitches. Pollock singled against reliever José Quijada, but Leury García hit a comebacker to the mound to end the inning.
The Angels extended the lead with a two-run homer by Luis Rengifo in the bottom of the sixth. Kopech exited after 99 pitches.
“I was talking to Lance (Lynn) a little after my outing and he said it best: The days you don’t have your best stuff and you’re able to grind through five or six and limit damage, that’s what pitching is about,” Kopech said. “Not when you do have your best stuff, things are going easy. You would like to have that every time, but it’s a difficult time and we face really good players.”
The Sox scored on a wild pitch in the eighth, but that would be all for the offense. They went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
“Sometimes you strike out that many times and you didn’t do a good job,” La Russa said. “But we did a good job of prolonging at-bats, we had opportunities and they made the pitch to get the outs. Tip your cap to the other side.”