Chicago White Sox — 5 outs from being no-hit — lose again to fall to 3-17 on the season

PHILADELPHIA — The Chicago White Sox didn’t have a hit until the seventh inning Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

One night later they found themselves creeping even deeper into no-hitter territory.

The Sox didn’t collect a hit against Phillies starter Zack Wheeler until one out in the eighth Saturday when Korey Lee singled to right.

An inning later, the Sox found themselves down by nine runs and on the verge of being shut out for the eighth time this season. They pieced together a rally to bring the tying run to the plate but couldn’t complete the comeback in a 9-5 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 44,546 at Citizens Bank Park.

At 3-17, the Sox are off to their worst 20-game start in franchise history.

“We just strung some good (at-bats) together,” manager Pedro Grifol said of the ninth. “It’s going to happen at some point — these guys have a track record and at some point they’re going to figure this thing out as a team, not as individuals. This team will click offensively at some point.”

For a good portion of the night, it looked as if Wheeler would make some history of his own. The right-hander was brilliant, allowing one hit while striking out eight, walking two and hitting a batter in 7 1/3 innings.

“He was effective with all of his pitches, commanding the zone,” Lee said. “Really good two-seam, had a good changeup, slider. That’s what it takes to be a good pitcher in this league, having all three pitches.”

The night began with a 10-pitch at-bat for Sox infielder Nicky Lopez, who drew a walk. The Sox wouldn’t have another baserunner until one out in the fifth when Wheeler hit Paul DeJong with a pitch. DeJong exited the game in the bottom of the sixth with a left elbow bruise.

Wheeler received offensive support early as the Phillies scored three runs in the second inning. Brandon Marsh hit a two-run homer and Johan Rojas had an RBI single.

Nick Castellanos added a two-run single off reliever Tanner Banks in the fifth. Those runs were charged to starter Michael Soroka. The right-hander allowed five runs on six hits with two strikeouts and three walks in 4⅔ innings.

“Probably did Marsh a favor there — he was a little late, sped him up, threw a changeup,” Soroka said. “A bad pitch to a guy who’s been seeing the ball real well. He made me pay.

“All in all, things — compared to last outing — were in a better place. But still obviously wasn’t good enough.”

Wheeler returned from a lengthy break in the fifth by striking out the final two batters in a perfect sixth.

Gavin Sheets had the first hit for the Sox in the seventh inning Friday against Spencer Turnbull. On Saturday, it was Lee. The catcher hit a dribbler that just got past first baseman Bryce Harper, who made a diving attempt but couldn’t get to the ball.

“I was just trying to get on,” Lee said. “Everyone knew the no-hitter was going on, so obviously try to break it up. Find any way on possible and get a rally going.”

That rally came in the ninth. Dominic Fletcher had an RBI double and Lee followed with a two-run double against reliever Ricardo Pinto. Eloy Jiménez and Sheets had two-out RBI singles. And when Andrew Vaughn got hit by a pitch, the Sox found themselves with the bases loaded and Andrew Benintendi batting as the tying run.

José Alvarado induced Benintendi to ground out to first to end the game. But on a night during which so many of the seasonlong struggles were on display, the ninth gave the Sox something to try to carry forward.

“We’re not going to go down without a fight,” Lee said. “That’s what we talk about in the dugout, that’s what we talk about in here. Just continuing that route with not giving up.”