CHICAGO -- A visit from the crosstown Cubs couldn't tilt the White Sox luck after returning home from losing four of their last five games on their latest road trip.
The White Sox, who swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field in May, hadn't lost any of those games by more than two runs. The Cubs provided a much more lopsided defeat for the White Sox and spot starter Zach Stewart, who surrendered four home runs in his first start of the season in a 12-3 loss Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Cubs dealt the White Sox their worst defeat, registering season highs with 12 runs, five home runs and 15 hits. The 12 runs and five home runs marked the most allowed by White Sox pitchers this season.
"Tonight was one of those games we didn't feel like we had it from the beginning and we just got killed, really," said first baseman Paul Konerko. "Some of the losses we've had lately are a little different than that, where we played pretty well and it was a good game the whole way and we lost at the end. Then you look up and you have four or five losses in a row or five out of six."
Stewart surrendered six runs in 5 2/3 innings, conceding two-run homers to right fielder Bryan LaHair and shortstop Starlin Castro and solo blasts to designated hitter Alfonso Soriano and catcher Geovany Soto, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game.
Stewart, who made all of his 11 previous starts last year with the White Sox and Blue Jays, saw his ERA rise from 6.00 to 6.29 as a starter.
"I've done it before," Stewart said of starting. "It's nothing that should have fazed me too much or anything. A few opportunities came about and I didn't make the pitch. They did what they were supposed to do with it."
The results were much worse for reliever Nate Jones, who entered in the seventh with the White Sox trailing, 6-3. He allowed run-scoring hits to each of the first four batters he faced, including a three-run home run to Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena.
Jones left after a single by Soto, surrendering four runs on five hits without recording an out.
"He's been used a lot," said manager Robin Ventura. "That's partly my fault. He's been good. This was just one of those days for him. Still trust him and everything else, it's just one of those, he gets it in the middle, it doesn't matter how hard you throw, guys are going to be able to hit it if you miss location."
The game's first nine runs came courtesy of four home runs from the Cubs and two from the White Sox. Valbuena hit the game's seventh home run to give the Cubs a 12-3 lead.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski provided a solo shot in the fifth and Konerko added a two-run homer an inning later for the only runs off Cubs starter Matt Garza.
"A guy like him, he gets runs to work with and gets a head of steam ... in that one inning it kind of got close and they just blew it open, and that was that," Konerko said.
Castro and Valbuena each delivered three hits in their first four at-bats against Stewart, Jones and reliever Will Ohman, who struck out left fielder Tony Campana to end the sixth before hitting a batter and allowing a single to start the Cubs' six-run seventh inning.
"That was obviously, no doubt, our best offensive production of the year -- slugging percentage, quality at-bats, hitting the fastball, taking advantage of all the mistakes they made throughout the whole lineup," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum.
Ventura and Konerko both said it's difficult to pinpoint any one thing the White Sox have done wrong in their recent skid, losing 10 of their first 16 games in June. But neither seem to be in a panic, stressing that losing spurts can happen in a season.
They both agreed losses like the walk-off 2-1 defeat Sunday against the Dodgers are much tougher to swallow. Still, though Konerko said Monday's loss wasn't a heartbreaker, it still counts all the same.
"Tonight was obviously just a battle where we just got beat up out there," Konerko said. "Just show up tomorrow and our goal is to win this series. We can still do that."
Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.