CHICAGO -- Mitch Moreland's two-out, pinch-hit single off of White Sox closer David Robertson in the ninth inning gave Texas an improbable 2-1 victory Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Improbable, because the Rangers did virtually nothing against Chris Sale over eight innings.
Sale retired the first 17 Texas hitters he faced before Hanser Alberto's two-out single in the sixth broke up a perfect game. Sale settled for extending his remarkable run of double-digit strikeout efforts to six straight games and seven in his last eight, as he fanned 14 and didn't issue a walk.
Robertson looked as if he may have pitched out of a jam with runners on second and third and one out in the ninth by striking out Joey Gallo. He then walked Prince Fielder intentionally to load the bases, before Moreland connected.
"These guys believe that they can win," said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. "They battled. They didn't get to Sale, but they were able to chip away and use up the pitch count and get him out of the game so that they were going to somebody. They're not going to quit, they're not going to give in, they're going to play till the end."
Prior to the Alberto hit, the only thing close to falling in safely off Sale came in the second when Fielder ripped a line shot to right field that was caught by Avisail Garcia. Sale settled for the two-hitter, although he couldn't prevent the White Sox from losing their eighth straight and falling to 10 under and 28-38.
Colby Lewis wasn't quite as brilliant as Sale, but the Texas starter was pretty darn good in his own right. He allowed only Tyler Flowers' solo home run in the fifth, and then pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh when Alberto made a nice running catch in right on Melky Cabrera's pop fly.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Inadvertent web gem:Jose Abreu turned a potential error on a routine Elvis Andrus grounder in the fourth into a standout defensive play with the help of Sale. Andrus hit a squibber to first that Abreu bobbled and couldn't find right away. He eventually made a no-look toss to Sale covering, with Sale grabbing the ball barehanded for the second out and to keep the perfect game alive.
Lewis overshadowed: Lost in Sale's performance was Lewis' fourth straight quality start after he allowed one run in eight innings. Lewis allowed nine hits, including the home run in the fifth, while striking out seven without a walk. It's the third time Lewis has recorded seven or more strikeouts this season, as he lowered his ERA to 4.08.
"He pretty much matched Sale," Banister said. "He was coming off the extra rest really fresh. The ball was coming out of his hand very well and he was pretty much in total control of what he wanted to do."
The K Zone: Sale struck out 12 or more for the fifth straight start. He joins Pedro Martinez in 1999 and Randy Johnson in 1998 as the only pitchers in Major League history to strike out 12 or more batters in five consecutive starts. Sale has struck out 93 over his last 61 1/3 innings. More >
"Chris pitched great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's the crown jewel of our pitching staff."
Completing the comeback: The Rangers needed only one inning to erase eight bad ones Friday night. Shin-Soo Choo walked and Andrus singled in the ninth before they advanced on a wild pitch from Robertson. Two batters later, Moreland's single brought them both home to take the lead. The Rangers were 2-24 when trailing after eight innings entering the contest. More >
"I guess that's icing on the cake. When something like that happens you really want to come through for your team and prove the other team wrong, and pick up your team as well." -- Moreland, on the White Sox decision to intentionally walk Fielder to get to him
"It's tough. It's just a grind. You need things to go right one day and you need a few good things to go your way and you end up on top with a win. Tonight we had it. [Sale] did everything he was supposed to do and I blew it. I can't say anything else about it. I stunk it up tonight." -- Robertson, on the team's gut-wrenching manner to reach eight straight losses
Fielder entered Friday's contest with the fourth highest batting average (.344) in the Majors this season, but he continued to struggle against Sale. After hitting a single in the seventh inning, Fielder is 5-for-28 against Sale with eight strikeouts and only one RBI. Sale has faced prized Texas rookie Gallo six times, and struck him out all six times.
PACE OF GAME
The first seven innings of Friday's game took precisely 1:42 to play.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: In search of run support, Nick Martinez goes for win No. 6 as Texas takes on the White Sox from U.S. Cellular Field at 1:10 CT. The Rangers have averaged just 1.75 runs a game in his last four starts after they averaged 7.67 runs before that span.
White Sox:Carlos Rodon takes the mound for his eighth start of the season. The rookie southpaw allowed seven runs on hits over 3 2/3 innings in his last start at Pittsburgh, suffering his first career loss..
Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.