Sale cares more about Sox than stats amidst rocky stretch

Chicago's ace has not won since July 2; club has gone 1-5 since then

Sale cares more about Sox than stats amidst rocky stretch

MIAMI -- The final line for Chris Sale during a 5-4 White Sox loss to the Marlins Sunday afternoon showed five runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings for the five-time All-Star.

Sale didn't really care about those numbers. He was bothered much more by the "L" attached to the White Sox on a game in which he started.

"I just know I'm not winning games, and that's what I'm supposed to do," said Sale, who threw 110 pitches while striking out seven and walking one. "I've got to be better. I have to win games for this team, no doubt.

"I'm not really doing too much to help. It [stinks]. You try to do your job and go out and try to win your team a game, and you don't do that and it's frustrating. It would be frustrating for anybody."

What's really frustrating and extremely surprising for one of the game's best pitchers is that Sale now has gone six starts without a victory since winning at Houston on July 2. During that stretch, Sale has allowed 20 earned runs on 38 hits over 40 2/3 innings, working out to a 0-4 record with two no-decisions and a 4.43 ERA. Chicago has gone 1-5 in those six games.

Certainly the team's struggles haven't fallen totally upon Sale during these six trips to the mound. But the team leader takes pride in what he does and how he handles his business.

"When I go out there and don't get the job done, I'm going to be frustrated. I hold myself to a very high standard," Sale said. "When I don't reach that, it's unacceptable. I don't care if it's this, that or the other thing. I just have to be better."

Miami's three-run fifth erased a 2-0 White Sox lead and changed the game's complexion. The first two runs scored when opposing pitcher Tom Koehler, hitting .081 entering the game, smacked a 93-mph fastball back up the middle off of Sale's right foot to score two after it ricocheted into left field. The pitch came at 1-2 in the at-bat.

Koehler's two-run single off Sale

"In that inning, the bottom of the lineup did a good job," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Putting it in play, stuff fell in, pitcher gets a hit. It just kind of unraveled right there."

Adeiny Hechavarria, who delivered the third of four straight hits off of Sale in the fifth, then scored from second on Ichiro Suzuki's sacrifice bunt when Sale was unable to cover home plate after catcher Omar Narvaez's throw to first.

"I've got to be at home plate for that," Sale said.

And while Sale has to be better, he certainly hasn't lost the faith of his teammates as one of the game's most dominant hurlers.

"As I've said in the past, he's one of the best in baseball, and we have confidence every day he goes out there that he's going to give us six, seven, eight, nine innings at a time," White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton said. "You definitely have a good feel when you're coming to the ballpark that you're going to win that day."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.