CHICAGO — The Rays turned to Austin Pruitt to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning Wednesday and that turned out to be a bad decision.
Pruitt gave up a two-run homer to Matt Davidson as the Rays blew the chance to put a happy ending on their cold and challenging road trip with the 2-1 loss.
Rookie Yonny Chirinos gave the Rays (3-9) another solid start, they scratched out one run while wasting opportunities for others and overcame a two-error play by leftfielder Mallex Smith thanks to the White Sox's own blunder to take a 1-0 lead to the eighth.
With limited options left in the bullpen and closer Alex Colome likely unavailable after working three straight days, manager Kevin Cash turned to Pruitt, who has had mixed results.
He allowed a one-out single to Jose Abreu, off the glove of shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, then the homer to Davidson on a 1-1 pitch. Two more singles followed.
The Rays got Matt Duffy on with a walk to open the ninth, but nothing else.
Chirinos was pitching to convince the Rays to add him as the fourth member of their rotation, and made a good case.
He worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings, running his career starting total to 14 1/3, while allowing four hits.
After failing to take advantage of early opportunities against old friend James Shields, the Rays got a run in the fifth. Kevin Kiermaier, back in the lineup after missing two games with a bruised right foot, singled and C.J. Cron laced a two-out double off the centerfield wall.
They certainly could have had more as Shields, the longtime Rays ace, walked five of the first 10, but in true veteran style settled down and worked into the seventh.
Smith almost single-handedly let the White Sox get even, making two errors on the same play. First Smith badly misplayed a fly ball by Omar Narvaez that bounced off his glove, then threw wildly past second, allowing Narvaez to come around to third.
The Rays brought in Chaz Roe, who then hit Leury Garcia as he attempted to bunt. But just when it looked promising for the Sox to take advantage, they messed up, as Narvaez — perhaps expecting a squeeze by Yoan Moncada — was caught off third by catcher Jesus Sucre and eventually run down.
The Rays headed home at the end of their cold and challenging eight-game, 10-day trip to New York, Boston and Chicago, with Thursday off before opening a weekend series with the Phillies on Friday at the Trop.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.