MIAMI -- Chris Sale is still in search of win No. 15.
The victory has now eluded the five-time All-Star pitcher for six weeks, including Sunday afternoon when the Miami Marlins rallied from an early deficit to beat the White Sox 5-4 in front of 21,401 at Marlins Park. Sale allowed five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings and Miami averted a three-game sweep against the White Sox, who had the tying run thrown out at home plate on the game’s final play.
“I’m not really doing too much to help this one either,” Sale said. “It sucks. You try to do your job and go out and try to win your team a game and you don’t do that and it’s frustrating. It would be frustrating for anybody. I don’t know what my lines or stats are. I just know I’m not winning games and that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
The White Sox feel good about their chances any time Sale takes the mound. He’s developed into a front-of-the-rotation starter and one of baseball’s best pitchers.
So imagine how high their confidence must be when they support him early as they did on Sunday when the White Sox jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning.
Adam Eaton homered on the game’s first pitch and Jose Abreu singled in a run off Tom Koehler. But Koehler retired 14 of 15 batters and Sale couldn’t hold off the Marlins.
Trailing 2-0, Miami pieced together a go-ahead rally in the fifth inning with four straight singles.
A bases-loaded, game-tying single by Koehler off Sale’s foot on a 1-2 pitch took a weird hop and drove in two.
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Ichiro Suzuki then tried to move the remaining runners up with a sac bunt. Starting on second base, Adeiny Hechavarria raced all the way home as Sale didn’t cover the plate, which had been vacated when catcher Omar Narvaez went out to field the bunt.
“That was just a brain fart, really,” Sale said. “I got to be at home plate for that.”
The White Sox rallied to tie the score at 3 on a Jose Abreu double, but Miami pulled back ahead against Sale in the seventh. Martin Prado’s one-out RBI single to right gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead. Sale stuck out Christian Yelich, but Marcell Ozuna singled in another run off Jacob Turner to stretch the lead to two runs.
Sale allowed eight hits and walked one while striking out seven in a 110-pitch effort.
“(The fifth) inning the bottom of the lineup did a good job,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Putting it in play, stuff fell in, pitcher gets a hit. It just kind of unraveled right there.”
“(In the seventh) you’re facing Prado and no matter who’s pitching you don’t want to see him up there with guys on base.”
Down two runs headed to the ninth, the White Sox found themselves in position for a two-out rally against Marlins closer Fernando Rodney. Tim Anderson’s solo homer to left made it a one-run game and Omar Narvaez singled to left.
Adam Eaton then moved pinch runner Carlos Sanchez to second with a single to right, his third hit in five trips. Tyler Saladino followed with a two-strike bloop base hit to left and third-base coach Joe McEwing waved in Sanchez. Yelich raced over and quickly retrieved the ball and fired a perfect strike home to catcher Jeff Mathis -- who after a very quick review was determined to have not blocked the plate -- to nail Sanchez and end the game.
The tough loss left a normally loquacious Sale frustrated afterward.
“I take pride in what I do and how I handle myself and how I handle my business,” Sale said. “When I go out there and don’t get the job done, I’m going to be frustrated. I hold myself to a very high standard. When I don’t reach that, it’s unacceptable. I don’t care if it’s this, that or the other thing. I just have to be better.”