It was only Detroit's fourth loss in its last 21 games and just the club's sixth in its last 22 against the White Sox.
"We faced an All-Star pitcher that pitched awfully well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "You've got to be real stingy when you run into a guy like that, but tonight we weren't stingy enough."
Sale allowed a first-inning home run to Miguel Cabrera and an RBI double to Brayan Pena in the second but little else, scattering nine hits in his fourth complete game of the season.
"He's an All-Star," Pena said. "He's one of those kids that he goes out there and he battled, and he did a good job for them."
Fister faced the minimum through the first three innings but got into the trouble in the fourth.
The right-hander issued consecutive two-out walks and uncorked two wild pitches in a span of six, the second of which scored Gordon Beckham. Fister got out of the inning, but he fell right back into trouble in the fifth.
The White Sox followed Jeff Keppinger's leadoff double with four straight one-out singles, as Josh Phegley, Alexei Ramirez and Beckham, who had three hits, each drove in a run.
Fister exited after six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits.
"We have plenty of confidence in the offense to put it together and pick me up, but at the same time, I didn't do my job," Fister said. "I've got to go out there and give us a better chance to win, especially against a great pitcher that we're facing tonight."
The three walks were the most by Fister since also issuing that many on July 17. He entered Monday ranked fourth in the American League with 1.57 walks per nine innings, and has walked one batter or fewer in 17 of his 24 starts this season.
"I think it was a combination of he didn't have his real good curveball or his command," Leyland said. "I thought that pretty much summed it up."
The Tigers had only two other scoring chances, first in the fourth inning when the bottom of the lineup failed to come through with two on and one out. Cabrera and Prince Fielder also led off the sixth with consecutive singles, but a pair of nice plays by Ramirez at shortstop stifled any potential rally.
Instead, the lone offense came from Pena and Cabrera, who homered on the first pitch he saw.
"He's a big strong guy. You miss by an inch and he's going to make you pay. He did," Sale said. "That's why he's the best hitter in the league and probably of all time."
It was the fourth straight game in which Cabrera's homered. He has a 10-game hitting streak during which he's batting .432 with two doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs.
"I mean, he's in his own world. He's in his own league," Tigers outfielder Tori Hunter said. "Everybody knows that. It's nothing people don't already know, what I'm saying. It's just the same stuff. He's good. He's great, actually."
Jose Iglesias appears to be those things, as well -- at least defensively. The Tigers shortstop made the play of the night in the sixth inning on a broken-back blooper off the bat of Phegley. The ball went softly over an outstretched Fister and landed behind the mound, where Iglesias barehanded it and threw to first in one motion while falling to the ground.
"Iglesias, man, since he's been here, he's been making some plays," said Hunter, who added it was the best play he's seen live. "You're talking about plays that I haven't seen in a long time."
Pena took it one step further.
"Unbelievable. I've never seen nothing like that," Pena said. "It was amazing. The fact that he was diving for it and kept in one motion and made a pretty accurate throw to first, that says a lot about the kid."