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Sale pitches complete-game victory

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale made sure he wasn't a hard-luck loser on Monday night against the Detroit Tigers.

Despite allowing a solo home run to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning and falling behind 2-0 after two frames, Sale led the Chicago White Sox to a 6-2 win at U.S. Cellular Field by throwing a complete game in the opener of a three-game series.

"I think after Cabrera got him in the first inning and he gives up another (run) in the second, it's kind of like we've seen that game before," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But it's part of maturity and getting through it. Nice job by the offense to come back and give him some support."

Because Chicago has not produced much offense in many of Sale's outings, the lanky left-hander came into the game with a 1-4 record and 1.62 ERA in six outings that he lasted at least eight innings - including three complete games. He had also received three runs of support or fewer in his previous four starts and in six of the last seven.

"It is what it is," Sale said afterward. "I look at it as kind of a learning experience. You are going to run through times like this ... good, bad or indifferent. (You) take the good with the bad and appreciate nights like this. Keep grinding on those other nights."

That's what he did in this game, only his offense followed suit this time. Held in check the first three innings by Detroit starter Doug Fister (10-6), the Sox made sure their ace didn't go unrewarded again by scoring once in the fourth, three times in the fifth and twice in the eighth en route to a 14-hit night.

Gordon Beckham (3-for-5, one RBI), Jeff Keppinger (3-for-4, two runs) and Josh Phegley (2-for-4, two RBIs) led the way offensively, while Sale (8-11) polished off his fourth complete game of the year. He allowed nine hits and just the two runs - striking out six with no walks, and throwing 79 of his 109 pitches for strikes. There was also no question which pitcher would start the ninth.

"I don't think anybody was going to be able to take him out," said Phegley, who caught Sale's gem. "If they'd have brought a reliever in, we'd have had two guys standing on the mound for sure."

Fister started out great, but struggled with wildness starting in the fourth. He lasted six innings and allowed four runs on eight hits, three walks and two wild pitches. He also got some bad luck on a ball hit by Beckham in the fifth that deflected off his glove into right field for a run-scoring single that put the Sox up 4-2.

Cabrera went 2-for-4 to lead the Tigers (69-48), who have dropped two straight games and three of their last four after reeling off 12 consecutive wins. The White Sox (45-72) won for the second time in five games.

The Tigers built an early 2-0 lead against Sale. It didn't take Cabrera long to continue torturing pitchers with the long ball.

After homering twice off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in New York over the weekend, Cabrera took Sale deep to right field on the first pitch he saw in the first inning. He lofted his 37th homer of the season just over the fence for a 1-0 lead. It was Cabrera's fourth straight game with a home run.

"He continues to amaze," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "First pitch he saw of the game, he hit a home run. It's hard to believe, really, what you're seeing - but nothing surprises us anymore."

Detroit made it 2-0 in the second thanks to Brayan Pena's two-out double to right-center, but the Tigers couldn't get to Sale again the rest of the way.

"He pitched well, what can you do?" Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter said. "Whenever Sale's on the mound, you get two runs off him, it's 2-0, we try to preserve the lead. (It) just didn't work out. They got some runs ... and they got the run support. When Sale is on, that's probably all that he's going to let you have."

NOTES: LF Dayan Viciedo didn't play for the White Sox for the third consecutive game because of a sore thumb. He has missed five of Chicago's past seven games. An MRI on the thumb was negative. ... Detroit called up C Bryan Holaday to replace injured C Alex Avila, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list after Sunday's game with concussive symptoms. ... The Tigers reinstated 2B Omar Infante (sprained left ankle) from his rehab assignment in the minor leagues and optioned INF Hernan Perez to Triple-A Toledo. ... Detroit RHP Octavio Dotel had his rehab assignment transferred from the rookie-level Gulf Coast League to Class A Lakeland. Dotel has been out since late April due to right elbow inflammation.
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