Luis Robert Jr. hit a three-run homer for Chicago, which improved to 5-12 in September. Tim Anderson had four of the team’s 15 hits.
Clevinger was working on a shutout before Dominic Smith hit his 10th homer with two out in the ninth inning. Smith walked slowly to first while watching the shot to right-center, and then flipped his bat.
Clevinger (8-8) took exception and exchanged words with Smith, prompting benches to clear in an incident that didn’t escalate beyond shouting.
“He stayed at the plate for 10 seconds after getting absolutely obliterated all night and then when he went around the bases still wanted to do it because I kept holding my glove up to show Pedro (manager Pedro Grifol) I wasn’t ready to come out of the game," he said. "Then he wanted to continue to mock me after him and everybody else just didn’t have a good night. I gave him my piece, and then that was it.”
Clevinger struck out Carter Kieboom for the final out.
Smith said he was not sure why Clevinger was yelling at him and that he was not upset with the pitcher.
“I was just trying to figure out what he was saying,” Smith said. “I touched third, he was saying something. I touched home, he was still saying something. I just said ‘What are you saying?’ That’s all.”
Washington was eliminated from postseason contention with the loss. The Nationals, who have dropped six of seven and 16 of 21, have missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons since winning the World Series in 2019.
Clevinger struck out seven and issued no walks for his fourth consecutive start. The 32-year-old right-hander retired 17 of 18 in one stretch.
“When you eliminate walks from the game, you’re tough to beat, especially if you have that kind of stuff,” Grifol said. “I looked up on the board, and I don’t get too caught up in velocity, but I looked up there a few times today and it was 97. His curveball was sharp. He threw some really good changeups. He pounded the strike zone. He was just in command all night long.”
Clevinger has a 2.71 ERA in 13 starts since June 1. He is 2-2 with a 1.64 ERA in six road starts in that span.
“I feel like a broken record, but I really do feel like it’s being able to go out there and take start after start after start and not having a break,” Clevinger said. “When I can find these rhythms, I know how my body moves and I feel like the past couple years it’s been really because I’ve been having two starts on and one start off.”
Chicago went ahead to stay in the fifth. Anderson singled with two outs and Andrew Benintendi walked before Robert drove Joan Adon’s 0-1 curveball into the visitors’ bullpen in left. It was Robert’s 36th homer, second in the AL behind Los Angeles’ Shohei Ohtani.
Chicago added three more runs in the sixth. Yoán Moncada doubled and scored on Andrew Vaughn’s single. Yasmani Grandal then hit another single, chasing Adon (2-3).
Jose A. Ferrer then came in and induced a double-play grounder, and Elvis Andrus followed with an RBI single.
Ferrer appeared to limit the damage when he caught Andrus breaking for second. Ferrer turned his back to the play as he began walking to the dugout, but Andrus got into a rundown and scampered back to an uncovered first. Andrus eventually scored on Benintendi’s single.
Adon allowed nine hits, struck out five and walked two.
White Sox: LHP Garrett Crochet (shoulder) struck out three in a scoreless inning Sunday during a rehabilitation appearance for Triple-A Charlotte. Grifol said Crochet will have a bullpen session Tuesday.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Rainey (Tommy John surgery) will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, though manager Dave Martinez didn’t commit to activating the reliever this season. “His elbow feels good,” Martinez said. “We’re working on some stuff mechanically with him, cleaning it up a little bit. The last thing we want to do is get him hurt again. … Right now, the main goal is to have him ready to go in spring training next year.” ... RHP Cade Cavalli (Tommy John surgery) is with the team during Washington’s final homestand and could play catch this week.
White Sox: RHP José Ureña (0-6, 8.48 ERA) is 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts since debuting for Chicago on Sept. 9.
Nationals: RHP Jackson Rutledge (0-1, 17.18 ERA), Washington’s first-round pick in 2019, makes his first start at home after allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 in his major league debut Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
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