KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chris Sale always has a strong desire to finish his starts, but Carlos Sanchez delivered even more momentum late on Friday night.
Sanchez blasted a go-ahead, three-run homer off Kelvin Herrera in the eighth inning to put Sale in front and he did the rest as the White Sox topped the Kansas City Royals 7-4 in front of 29,218 at Kauffman Stadium. Sale --- who retired the first 13 men he faced -- struck out 10 in a 119-pitch effort for his sixth complete game of the season and earned his first victory since Aug. 20 and only second since June.
“I threw my arms up in the air,” Sale said of the Sanchez homer. “I was just, it was crazy. That’s your team fighting for you right there. It’s your team fighting back against one of the best (Herrera).
“It changes the complete landscape of the game honestly. You are looking at, we were down two and then we scored one, and then we hit a three-run homer. All you have to do is go out there and not mess up too bad.”
Sanchez’s second straight game-winner arrived three batters after Todd Frazier jump-started the stunning rally. Frazier had taken umbrage to an inside fastball near his head with one out in the eighth from Herrera and the Royals ahead 4-2. Frazier barked at Herrera before catcher Salvador Perez played the role of peacemaker.
After play resumed, Frazier doubled to left field and instantly scored on a one-out RBI single by Alex Avila. Avisail Garcia walked in front of Sanchez, who sat on a fastball and skied a 3-2 heater out to right to put the White Sox ahead 6-4.
Melky Cabrera blasted a solo homer in the ninth off Peter Moylan to stretch the lead to three runs.
“It’s really good when your pitcher pitches a really good game, to get the win,” Sanchez said. “I just tried to get the ball good and bring one run in and I feel really good.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura had no qualms bringing Sale back for the bottom of the eighth inning. Working efficiently, Sale had thrown 90 pitches through seven innings and rebounded nicely after he allowed four runs (three earned) between the fifth and sixth. Sale needed only 11 pitches to get through the eighth after a leadoff single and convinced Ventura with a quick chat to bring him back for the ninth. Though he walked one, Sale ended the game with a strikeout of Paulo Orlando on a 95-mph fastball. His six complete games are the most by a White Sox pitcher since Bartolo Colon had nine in 2003.
“He was going back out,” Ventura said. “It was nice for him to finish it off. Early on he was real sharp. They got to him in the middle there. Even at the end, talking to him, he felt great. We had been talking about how strong he is, his endurance, and this is another example of that.”
Sale looked like he had the stuff perfect games are made of in the early going.
He had pinpoint command of his fastball and buckled knees with sliders. Sale had no close calls in the first 13 hitters and was efficient. He struck out one batter in each of the first four innings and only needed 43 pitches to set down the first 12.
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But Salvador Perez fouled off an 0-2 slider in the fifth inning and singled to start a barrage of Royals hits. By the time it was over, Kansas City had gone 7-for-10 and went from trailing by two to leading 4-2. Sale escaped the sixth inning with a double play and set down the side in order in the seventh inning. HIs 11-pitch eighth meant Sale has pitched at least eight innings in six straight starts, the most by a White Sox pitcher since Jack McDowell had seven from July 10-August 8, 1994. He recently attributed the run to a plan he and pitching coach Don Cooper devised in spring training to work more efficiently. Sale also credited his catchers and his manager for trusting him.
“You got to give credit to my team, my catchers and not only that, but to Robin,” Sale said. “He’s letting me get extended a little bit. A lot of people are afraid to let guys get over the 110-pitch mark. We go based on feel -- if I’m feeling good. He came up and asked me after the eighth. I know how I felt and we went from there.”