CHICAGO -- It didn't take long for the red-hot Cubs to figure out their nine-game winning streak was in trouble Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field against Chris Sale.
Try 14 pitches and three strikeouts in the first inning to open a 15-strikeout effort that matched the four-time All-Star's career high in a 3-1 White Sox victory. Sale allowed one hit, a one-out single to left by Dexter Fowler in the sixth, and went over 200 strikeouts for the third consecutive season.
Sale joins Ed Walsh as the only player in franchise history to reach 200 strikeouts in at least three straight seasons. He also recorded the 29th double-digit strikeout game of his career, the 11th this season and the 17th time in his career that he's struck out at least 12, extending his three franchise records.
This nearly unhittable seven-inning performance also helped the White Sox avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of their crosstown rival and to retain the Crosstown Cup. Simply put, Sale was the definition of an ace working under hot and humid conditions.
About the only miss for Sale on Sunday was the single-game franchise strikeout record, set by Jack Harshman at 16 in 1954.
"You're not going out there trying to strike out 16 guys every time," said Sale, who isn't overly moved by individual records. "I have a job to do, and that's win games and leave my team a chance to win when I get [taken] out."
"He's the best in the biz, so yeah, hat's off to him," said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who struck out twice against Sale. "He made us look silly, but that's what he does."
Sale struck out the side three times, adding the fourth and the seventh to his first-inning showing. The seventh was particularly impressive after he escaped the only trouble spot of the day one inning before.
In the sixth, Chris Denorfia walked after Fowler singled and one out later, Rizzo was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Jorge Soler. Soler had reached base earlier via an Adam LaRoche error and a walk, but after fouling off 98 and 99 mph fastballs, he took a slider looking on the outside corner.
"You definitely don't want it to get out of hand, especially with a hitter like him," said Sale, who threw 116 pitches. "He can put the ball over the fence at any given time. You just want to bear down right there."
Nate Jones struck out the side in the eighth, giving the White Sox a franchise record 18 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. It was Sale, of course, who did the heavy lifting.
"I hate to say it, but you kind of expect it from Sale, like it's just like a normal outing," Jones said. "He's that dominant."
"A couple of guys, he executed every pitch in every at-bat against," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, possibly referring to three strikeouts for Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero. "He's tough when he doesn't hit spots and when he does, it's almost impossible."