CHICAGO -- Chris Sale held up his end of the bargain, but Max Scherzer couldn't match him Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
A potential duel between two of the game's best pitchers fizzled, and Sale led the Chicago White Sox to a 5-1 win against the Detroit Tigers, preventing Scherzer from earning his 20th win of the season.
Detroit also played most of the game without star third baseman Miguel Cabrera and manager Jim Leyland, who were ejected during Cabrera's plate appearance in the top of the first inning.
It didn't seem to matter much, because Sale (11-12) cruised through the rest of the Tigers' lineup. The hard-throwing lefty allowed just one run in eight innings and struck out eight while throwing 78 of his 114 pitches for strikes. The lone damage he allowed was a solo home run by Victor Martinez in the seventh on a night when the hot, muggy weather conditions could've easily turned the ballpark into a launching pad for long balls.
The Sox didn't use the home run, either, but they did utilize some solid "small ball" to give Scherzer (19-3) an early exit. Chicago scored twice off him in the first inning and three more times in the fourth. While coming up short in his third attempt at win No. 20, Scherzer lasted four innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits.
Paul Konerko had a two-run single, and Dayan Viciedo went 2-for-4 with an RBI single to lead the Sox.
Martinez finished 2-for-3.
Detroit (82-62) has dropped three straight games and six of its last eight, losing a game in the American League Central standings to the second-place Cleveland Indians, who beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Monday. Detroit still leads the season series against Chicago with an 8-6 mark, but the last-place Sox (58-85) have won three of the last four against Detroit.
It was the shortest outing of the season for Scherzer, who threw 90 pitches and didn't look comfortable on the mound all game. He walked two and struck out six. Aside from staying parked on 19 wins, a more troubling trend is also developing.
This was Scherzer's second poor start in the past three. He had allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits in five innings in a no-decision on Aug. 29 against the Oakland A's.
The first inning provided an odd start, beginning in the top half when Cabrera was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Brian Gorman with an 0-2 count against him. Cabrera, who was hit in the right leg with Sale's second pitch, was ruled by Gorman to have swung -- thus negating the hit-by-pitch rule. Cabrera appeared to ask for an appeal on the ruling from first base umpire Tony Randazzo, but Gorman didn't ask for one and the bat continued.
After Cabrera fouled off the third pitch he saw from Sale, Cabrera appeared to say something else and was ejected -- which brought Leyland out of the dugout to protest. Eventually, Leyland was also tossed from the game. Ramon Santiago came into the game to play third and hit in Cabrera's third spot of the order.
The strange inning then continued in the bottom half, when the Sox took a 2-0 lead against Scherzer.
Alejandro De Aza singled, Gordon Beckham walked and each then advanced a base on Adam Dunn's long flyout to center for the inning's second out -- with Beckham going from first to second.
Both scored on a single by Konerko, giving the early lead to Sale, whose first strikeout of the game, retiring Austin Jackson in the third, was his 200th of the season. In That was the fastest any pitcher in franchise history had reached that mark in a season in terms of innings pitched and appearances.
Chicago broke it open to make it 5-0 with three more runs in the fourth on four hits and a throwing error by Scherzer.
NOTES: Prior to the game, Dunn re-addressed his comments from last week about possibly retiring before next season and said his thoughts were taken out of context. "I said probably the first time I ever said those words, I was probably 22 years old," Dunn said. "The day that I'm not having fun, the day that I walk into a locker room and it's tough for me to show up or the competition juices aren't flowing, I'm leaving. I'm going home. For some reason, people take that as I'm retiring." ... Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper was in the dugout after getting checked out again for a bout of diverticulitis. ... White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said his team likely would be active in trades and free agency this season, possibly dipping into the organization's young pitching well to acquire some needed pieces for next season. ... The ejections were the second of the season for Cabrera and fourth for Leyland.