Sale on point as White Sox slip past Royals

Sale on point as White Sox slip past Royals

Sale on point as White Sox slip past Royals
KANSAS CITY -- White Sox starter Chris Sale was successful yet again on familiar ground.

Just days removed from appearing in the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium -- where he threw a scoreless inning against the National League -- Sale tossed eight solid innings on Sunday to help the White Sox earn a 2-1 victory over the Royals in the rubber game.

Sale and catcher A.J. Pierzynski were quick to say it wasn't the lefty's best day in his All-Star season. Sale allowed a season-high 10 hits, but he gave up just one run -- the ninth time this season he's held an opponent to one run or fewer in a start.

"He definitely didn't have his best stuff today," Pierzynski said. "But at the same time, he battled and got a lot of ground balls when we needed them. Got a couple strikeouts when we needed them. He made pitches when he had to. Other than that, it was a fight the whole day. They have a good team. They can hit."

For all of the hits, Sale only ran into a couple of jams. The most threatening in the bottom of the eighth.

Sale had already thrown 105 pitches heading into the frame, and he allowed back-to-back singles to Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler to start it. But after coaxing a flyout from Lorenzo Cain, Sale started an inning-ending double play by fielding Yuniesky Betancourt's comebacker.

"I don't think I wanted to get out of an inning more than that one," Sale said. "Being in the situation I was then, the adrenaline was flowing, and I was hyped up. I got out of it and I knew [closer Addison Reed] was coming in. So, what's not to be excited about?"

The start was Sale's first in almost two weeks. His previous outing was on July 3 against the Rangers before appearing in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

"They can hit," said Sale, now 11-2 on the season. "Game would have been a heck of a lot different without the defense making some great plays, unbelievable plays. Some balls that were hit real hard, they got tracked down and hit right at guys."

Sale didn't need that much run support, which was good news for a White Sox offense that struggled to get hits off Royals starter Luis Mendoza. The righty went 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on four hits.

Adam Dunn homered for the third straight game -- his 28th of the season and 393rd overall -- with his line-drive bullet in the first inning off Mendoza. It's the second time this season that Dunn homered in three consecutive contests. He also did it June 9-12 against the Astros and Cardinals.

"[At] 2-0, I was kind of geared up for a fastball and it was a changeup, and I caught it out in front," Dunn said. "I don't hit many of those line-drive homers, so I think it was just because I was out in front of it a little bit."

The White Sox scored again in the second inning, which started out looking like it would be a big frame. After Alex Rios singled and Pierzynski was hit by a pitch, Dayan Viciedo reached on an infield single to load the bases with none out.

The next hitter, Alexei Ramirez, bounced a sharp grounder down to third, but Mike Moustakas stopped it with a diving play, tagging third base while still on the ground and firing to first to complete the double play. Rios scored on the play, but a potential rally was halted by Moustakas' defensive gem. Gordon Beckham lined softly to second one batter later to end the inning.

"The first two innings I gave up two runs and I just tried to settle down," Mendoza said. "They've got a good lineup with good power and I just tried to make my pitches."

Dunn, who also drew a pair of walks, commented on how tough the Mendoza can be.

"Today he was off his game a little bit, but still we only got two runs," Dunn said. "I like him. I like what he does out there. He sinks the ball, cuts the ball, and he's got a good little slider and a good changeup. We were able to work him and get on base with some walks and scratch out a couple."

The Royals scored their lone run against Sale in the fifth inning on an RBI single from former White Sox infielder Chris Getz. It could have been worse, as the Royals had runners at the corners with one out, but Sale struck out Escobar and got a ground ball from Butler to end the threat.

The ninth was also a bit of an adventure for Reed. He allowed a two-out single to Salvador Perez, and after pinch-runner Jason Bourgeois stole second as the potential tying run, Reed retired Getz on a grounder for the final out and his 14th save.

The White Sox won their third straight series and their first at Kauffman Stadium since May 2009.

"We were talking about that. We were like, 'Man that seems like a long time.' Then when you thought about it, and I watched in the ninth inning, all their highlight videos are of them walking us off. Seems about right," Pierzynski said. "It was a big win after the All-Star break, the first game, then the way yesterday's game went, then today, it was just a good win, a good team win."

Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.