Chris Sale didn’t set a major league record on Monday night but his teammates’ eighth-inning rally was a nice consolation prize.
Melky Cabrera’s two-out, two-run double capped a three-run comeback against Mark Buehrle as the White Sox topped the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 in front of 24,593 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale came up four strikeouts shy in his bid for a ninth consecutive double-digit performance, which would have established a major league record. But the left-hander outdueled his former teammate with a complete-game victory in a 114-minute contest in front of a raucous crowd. The White Sox have won five of their last six games.
“He’ll take the win,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Wins are hard to come by in the league, and you can ask (Jose Quintana) or any other guy, and they’re going to take the win. He goes out there and competes every time. He would like to have (the record), but I don’t think that goes in front of getting a win for him.”
Especially a victory that appeared out of nowhere against Buehrle, who had kept the White Sox in check for seven innings.
Headed into the eighth inning the White Sox owned six hits, trailed 2-1 and had only won four times in 39 previous tries when trailing after seven innings.
But a Jose Reyes error on Gordon Beckham’s grounder to start the eighth gave the White Sox an extra out. Adam Eaton fell behind Buehrle 0-2 in the count but worked it full before he extended the inning with a two-out single to center. Jose Abreu singled on the first pitch he saw from Buehrle to tie the game at 2.
Cabrera -- who had 11 hits in his last 26 at-bats versus lefties after a 4-for-50 start -- ripped a 2-1 fastball past Josh Donaldson to give the White Sox the lead for good.
Back on the mound with a two-run lead, Sale induced a game-ending double play off Danny Valencia’s bat after he yielded two ninth-inning singles.
“It’s nice for us to be able to battle back there in late innings and get big hits,” Eaton said. “I feel like we haven’t really been able to get that big hit.
“Every start (Sale) has, he picks us up. For us to be able to pick him up in a big stance, it does a lot for the psyche of the team.”
The White Sox had only won four of the left-hander’s last eight starts despite Sale’s Herculean run to tie Pedro Martinez’s strikeout mark. Included in that stretch were consecutive 2-1 losses (Sale lost one at Tampa Bay and earned a no-decision in the other versus the Texas Rangers).
Until the eighth inning, it looked as if Sale was in line for another difficult decision against an aggressive Blue Jays lineup.
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Both Sale and Buehrle responded to warm ovations from the crowd with quick, nearly identical first innings full of ground balls. Five of Sale’s first six outs came via grounders but he needed only 17 pitches to complete two scoreless innings against the highest-scoring offense in the majors.
But Toronto struck first when Chris Colabello had a solo homer to start the third inning. Donaldson’s solo drive to left in the sixth inning gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.
Though Sale seemed to gain some momentum with three straight strikeouts in between the fourth and fifth innings, surpassing Martinez never seemed to be within reach. Sale didn’t record his first strikeout until he got Devon Travis looking with one out in the third inning and he didn’t get another after he got Colabello swining in the seventh.
Beyond his six strikeouts, Sale reached a two-strike count 10 different times only for Toronto hitters to put the ball in play despite additional energy from the crowd. But in the end, all that mattered to Sale -- who allowed two earned runs and six hits -- was the victory.
“Every time there’s two strikes everybody’s making some noise,” Sale said. “But it didn’t work out. I’ll take this outcome over that any day.”
“It’s one of those things, it’s cool. It’s fine. But we won the game and I’m not gonna pout at all.”