Sale magnificent, but White Sox fall in 10

Sale magnificent, but White Sox fall in 10

Sale magnificent, but White Sox fall in 10
CHICAGO -- There isn't any hidden subtext or deep meaning to be derived from Milwaukee's 1-0 victory in 10 innings over the White Sox before 22,798 Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.

The story of this game actually is quite simple.

Two of the best starters in the game, Zack Greinke (8-2) and Chris Sale, engaged in a classic pitchers' duel.

No 450-foot home runs. No five- or six-run innings. In fact, no runner got past first base for the White Sox (36-34) during the two hours and 22 minutes it took to complete this diamond gem.

In the end, Greinke wasn't any better than Sale. The Brewers' offense was simply a bit better than the White Sox.

"We got beat," Sale said. "It's as simple as that."

"You're looking at two guys that can pitch," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "You just saw a great matchup and both of them just battling all the way."

Greinke pitched nine innings and allowed three hits while walking one and striking out four. At 100 pitches and with the White Sox never mounting a threat, it was almost a surprise that closer John Axford (13th save) came on for the 10th after the Brewers (33-37) pushed across one in the top of the inning against Jesse Crain (1-1).

Alex Rios' single to right marked the first hit off Greinke leading off the fifth, but he was quickly doubled up when A.J. Pierzynski's line drive found first baseman Corey Hart basically standing on the bag. The Brewers turned four double plays, including a game-ender on Paul Konerko's grounder to third baseman Taylor Green.

Adam Dunn walked with two outs in the first, Gordon Beckham singled to open the seventh and Pierzynski singled with one out in the eighth to sum up the White Sox offense against Milwaukee's ace.

"Good game all around. Got better as the game went on," Greinke said. "I was a little off and on early, but got some breaks, some line drives hit at people and kind of settled in a little bit. I mixed up pitches really well."

"I definitely knew whoever was going to score a run, it was going to be the difference in the game," said White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, through translator and manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "It was unfortunate it wasn't us."

That one Milwaukee run started with Aramis Ramirez's leadoff double to left on a 1-2 pitch from Crain. Pinch-runner Nyjer Morgan moved to third on a wild pitch after Hart struck out, and Morgan then came home on Rickie Weeks' single to left.

If Sale and Greinke were left in to pitch, that scoreless contest might still be going. Sale limited the Brewers to four hits over eight innings, although they did have a couple of viable scoring opportunities. In the fifth, Weeks doubled to right with one out and moved to third on Sale's wild pitch, but Sale struck out Cody Ransom and Martin Maldonado swinging to strand Weeks at third.

In the seventh, Ramirez delivered a one-out double, which was followed by Hart's line shot to right. But Hart hit the ball too hard, as it hung up for Rios to catch and prevent the Brewers from scoring.

Pitching on six days' rest, Sale struck out seven and walked one to drop his American League-leading ERA to 2.24 over 88 1/3 innings. The Brewers can be added to the list of teams impressed by the dynamic starter in his first year as part of the rotation.

"Early on, I think he got away from his stuff," said Weeks. "Then he kind of locked in and got back to his hard fastball in and offspeed away. He was moving the ball in and out."

"He's really funky, along with great stuff," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "Sale is really good. I see why his record and his ERA are where they are."

Ventura pulled Sale after 109 pitches, giving way to Addison Reed in the ninth. Sale will be back to his normal four days' rest when he closes out the Twins series at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon.

"Short rest, long rest, whatever it is, you still have a job to do," Sale said. "You have to go out there and execute."

"Tonight, we were just looking at it for long term," Ventura said. "You'd like to leave him in there for a long time, but we're looking at the big picture with him. It was nothing with the way he was pitching."

Friday's setback dropped the White Sox 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland (37-32) in the American League Central, with the Indians claiming a 2-0 victory over Houston. It was the club's seventh loss in nine games, 11th in its last 16 and dropped it to 1-5 in extra innings and 7-9 in Interleague.

Over those last nine games, the White Sox offense is hitting at a .202 clip with 26 runs scored. They have been shut out seven times this season and three times by a 1-0 margin. Friday's duel marked the first White Sox game where both teams were scoreless through nine innings since July 21, 2010, in Seattle.

Not exactly encouraging news, but the respective offenses didn't have much of a chance on this night.

"It doesn't matter who is across the way or what team you are facing. You still have to go out there and bring the best for your team," Sale said. "But Greinke would have been tough on pretty much everybody tonight, the stuff he was throwing up there."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for 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.