Avi's 2 HRs back Sale as White Sox down Angels

Avi's 2 HRs back Sale as White Sox down Angels

CHICAGO -- Reports of Chris Sale's mound demise have been greatly exaggerated. The White Sox ace allowed two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings during an 8-2 victory over the Angels Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field, beginning a three-game series and a six-game homestand for the South Siders.

Sale had allowed seven runs in each of his last two starts, having not made it through six innings in each of those starts and having lost three of his last four trips to the mound.

"Yeah, you don't want to let that last too long," said Sale of his recent struggles. "It's always nice when you get a cushion. You go out in the first inning, score a run and get some big nights by guys."

Sale fans seven to earn win

But the Angels, who hold the edge for the American League's second Wild Card, were the right opponent for Sale to face. He has allowed eight runs over 38 1/3 career innings against the Angels, with five of those runs coming in one inning in Anaheim. Sale struck out seven and walked two.

"We just gotta try to put things together," said Angels center fielder Mike Trout. "We had a couple opportunities and just fell short. It's just one of those days when you try to get that big hit, and guys like [Sale], he's tough."

Los Angeles starter Matt Shoemaker saw his 19-inning scoreless streak come to an end in a rather major manner. He allowed one run each in the first, third and fourth innings and then gave up a four-spot in the sixth. Avisail Garcia homered twice and Tyler Flowers also went deep for the White Sox. Johnny Giavotella doubled home the Angels' two runs in the seventh.

Flowers' solo blast

Garcia flexing his muscles: The complaint this season about Garcia not hitting for enough power has been silenced by the White Sox right fielder. He has four homers over his last six games, after hitting just two in the 48 played and going homerless in 46 straight.

"Always feels great. I've been working really hard," Garcia said. "And those guys help me a lot, the manager, [White Sox hitting coach Todd] Steverson. I just try to come here and work hard, get better every day and play hard." More >

Garcia, Sale on Sox 8-2 win

Off the mark: Shoemaker had been a model of consistency over his last seven games, allowing an average of one run per game. But he struggled against Chicago, tying a season-high nine hits allowed. It was the first time since May 21 Shoemaker gave up more than five runs in game, but the third time this season he has allowed three home runs in a game.

"My whole focus is to go out there and put up zeros," Shoemaker said. "If I do that, we're going to have a lot of chances to win." More >

Close but still scoreless: Trout opened the fourth with a 13-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk. That brought to the plate Albert Pujols, and Pujols blasted one to left-center that looked as if it might be a game-tying shot. But Adam Eaton ran down the ball, about two steps from the wall, keeping the Angels off the scoreboard. Alexei Ramirez also made a slick play on Erick Aybar's high hopper to help Sale in that inning.

Ramirez's barehanded play

Here's Johnny: Struggling to string runs together off Sale, it was Giavotella who delivered the Angels' offense. His double to left field in the seventh inning not only scored both runs but marked his third game with multiple hits. Giavotella had seven multi-hit games in the month of July, but he has three through nine games in August.

Giavotella's two-run double

Trout's 13-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning against Sale is the longest at-bat in both of their careers. Trout ultimately drew a walk on the play, his second time reaching base against Sale after a double in the first inning.

"He was bringing it for sure," Trout said. "Any time you face him, it's a battle. It's a fun challenge. He's got good stuff, and I'm trying to hit it."

Trout vs. Sale

With Sale's strikeout of C.J. Cron to end the fourth, marking his fifth strikeout of the night, the southpaw took over the American League lead in strikeouts from Tampa Bay's Chris Archer (190). Sale stands at 193.

"One step at a time. You can't win three games in one day. Win today, come in tomorrow. Win tomorrow and then we'll take it from there." -- Sale, on the White Sox remaining postseason hope

"I think what makes him so effective is that he's multi-dimensional. When he's on, he's throwing the ball hard with good sink, good changeup, good slider. He's tough, and we had some good looks at him, but when he needed to get an out, he did." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on Sale's performance

Kole Calhoun appeared to be hit by a Sale pitch with one out in the eighth, but White Sox manager Robin Ventura challenged the call. Video replay confirmed the call, marking the last hitter of the night for Sale.

White Sox challenge hit-by-pitch

Angels: Hector Santiago makes his first start against his former team when he takes the mound for the Angels on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. Santiago will see a different team, though, as only two position players remain from his three seasons in Chicago. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. PT.

White Sox: It's start No. 16 for Carlos Rodon, who also will be making his 19th appearance of the season. Rodon is 1-2 with a 9.33 ERA over his last four starts.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his 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.