The Chicago White Sox's stellar history in interleague play took a minor hit in the opener of their weekend series against the Houston Astros.
Bouncing back may not be too difficult with Chris Sale on the mound in the second game.
Sale has been dominant in winning his last four starts heading into the first of his career against an NL opponent Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago (32-26) owns baseball's second-best all-time interleague record, which fell to 157-112 after Friday's series-opening 8-3 loss to Houston (25-33). The White Sox swept the woeful crosstown rival Cubs in their first 2012 interleague series May 18-20.
While struggling starter Gavin Floyd suffered the loss Friday, the White Sox will upgrade to Sale (7-2, 2.30 ERA) and his league-leading ERA one day later. Sale is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA over his last four outings with 36 strikeouts over 28 2-3 innings.
The left-hander pitched his first career complete game Sunday, allowing five hits and striking out eight in a 4-2 home win over Seattle. In his previous outing, the converted reliever struck out 15 in a victory over Tampa Bay.
Opponents are batting .193 against Sale, who has become even harder to hit since adding a changeup to his repertoire along with his fastball and slider.
"Having a third pitch is so big now," Sale told the White Sox's official website. "You can't go out there as a starter and just have two pitches. It's something I've been trying to build on and get better. I want to have a third pitch to throw to help me get deeper in games."
Sale posted a 3.00 ERA in eight interleague relief appearances last year.
Houston ended a six-game road slide Friday, bouncing back from a 14-2 drubbing at home against St. Louis the previous night.
The loss to the Cardinals ended with outfielder Brian Bogusevic on the mound. Bogusevic, born in nearby Oak Lawn, Ill., had a three-run homer Friday.
"Last night was a tough night for us,'' he said after Friday's win. "That's the good thing about baseball is you can have a game like that and turn around and all of a sudden you're in another one. It was nice to flush it out and get a win right away."
Jed Lowrie also homered and drove in three runs for Houston.
Paul Konerko, second among active players with 55 career interleague homers, went 0 for 5 for Chicago in his second game back after missing three with a wrist problem.
The Astros have lost 16 of the 20 career starts by Jordan Lyles (1-1, 4.97), but one of the victories was Sunday's 5-3 win over Cincinnati. Lyles yielded two runs over seven innings for his first 2012 victory.
The right-hander went 0-2 with a 5.48 ERA in four interleague starts - all Houston losses - as a rookie last season.
Both teams had starters exit Friday's contest early. Chicago outfielder Dayan Viciedo left after five innings with tightness in both hamstrings while Houston third baseman Chris Johnson came out after six because of nausea.
- Houston Astros
- Chris Sale