CHICAGO -- The White Sox nearly hit for the cycle in the first inning, producing two runs, and Tyler Flowers added a two-run double to back Chris Sale's strong outing in a 5-1 victory over the Cubs on Saturday.
This was the premier pitching matchup of the crosstown series with Sale facing the Cubs' Jon Lester, who struck out eight over seven innings in front of 41,596, the largest crowd of the season at Wrigley Field.
Sale posted his 10th double-digit strikeout game of the season to help the White Sox, who now lead the six-game Interleague series, 2-0.
"I think these guys are starting to come together and they're going out feeling like they're going to win games," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The way the guys are pitching, we're playing some defense, getting the timely hit like that … mentality-wise, they're definitely taking [an underdog] approach."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Out of the gate: The White Sox gave Sale an early lead, scoring two runs in the first inning. Adam Eaton led off with a double, followed by an RBI triple from Tyler Saladino, his first Major League hit. Jose Abreu then singled to score Saladino. Despite the runs, the White Sox are still being outscored 65-27 in the first inning this season.
"They kind of ambushed [Lester] in the beginning," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
"Any time you go out and you have Lester out there, he just seems to settle in," Ventura said. "There wasn't much going on offensively, so if you let him settle in, it makes for a long day."
Seventh inning: All-Star Kris Bryant had a tough day at the plate, striking out three times, and committed a throwing error in the seventh that helped the White Sox. Melky Cabrera singled to open the seventh and reached third on Bryant's error as he fielded Avisail Garcia's grounder, but he overthrew Anthony Rizzo at first. Alexei Ramirez hit an RBI single and Flowers added a two-run double.
Sale-ing along: The lefty ace continued his All-Star form, allowing one run on six hits in seven-plus innings of work. Sale struck out 10, marking the ninth time in his last 10 outings that he has thrown double-digit strikeouts. He worked efficiently through the sixth and seventh frames, finishing at 115 pitches, after throwing 90 in the first five innings. Manager Robin Ventura allowed him to pitch into the eighth, but Sale left after allowing a leadoff single to Rizzo.
"I'm just trying to keep it going," Sale said. "I don't know what it is or how it is ... just go out there and try to do your job as a pitcher. That's really it."
Start me up: Lester gave up three hits to the first three batters he faced, and then settled down, retiring 14 in a row at one point. The lefty was coming off his best start of the season, and Maddon said it seemed as if Lester was more comfortable. However, Lester is now winless in his last 10 starts. More >
"I'd be the first one to tell you I haven't thrown the ball the best that I've been able to in the past," Lester said. "At the end of the day, you can't give up more than the other guy and I've been doing that."
Cubs catcher Miguel Montero left the game after two innings with a jammed left thumb. Taylor Teagarden, promoted from Triple-A Iowa on July 4 when David Ross was sidelined with a concussion, took over behind the plate. Ross may be pressed into duty on Sunday as a backup.
"We've seen a lot of good pitching and have hit some balls well that have found leather as opposed to grass. We've seen good pitching, and that's it. We are a swing and miss team, that's part of our DNA now, and they've gotten the better of us, but I'm not discouraged in the least." -- Maddon, on the Cubs' offensive struggles
In the White Sox' eighth, Saladino hit a grounder to Bryant, who scooped up the ball barehanded, and threw to first. First-base umpire Mike Everitt initially called Saladino safe, but after a replay review, the call was overturned.
The White Sox streak of scoreless innings pitched ended at 30 on Saturday. In the seventh inning, the Cubs' Jonathan Herrera doubled to left field off Sale, scoring Starlin Castro. The streak dated to the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays.
"[The starters] are all talented guys," Flowers said. "They all have a gift in their arm. They are putting in the preparation and the work."
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Left-hander Jose Quintana hopes for the home-field advantage when he faces the Cubs on Sunday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Quintana holds a 3.33 ERA at home, but travels the 20 minutes north where he carries a 4.05 ERA on the road.
Cubs: Right-hander Jake Arrieta will close the first half and the first series between the crosstown rivals on Sunday at Wrigley Field. Arrieta is vying to become the first Cubs pitcher with 10 wins before the All-Star break since Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano both did so in 2008.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.