CHICAGO -- With a worn down bullpen, White Sox manager Robin Ventura gave in to Chris Sale's request.
Sale pitched a five-hitter for his first major league complete game and Chicago beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 Sunday for its 10th win in 11 tries.Sale (7-2) struck out eight and walked two. It was his 10th start this year after pitching in relief for Chicago during the last two seasons.Sale allowed Ventura to rest his entire bullpen after Chicago used all seven relievers in Saturday's taxing 12-inning loss. He also lowered his AL-leading ERA from 2.34 to 2.29.
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Sale entered the ninth with 100 pitches. He allowed a leadoff single by Jesus Montero, but got Justin Smoak to hit into a double play. Dustin Ackley followed with a single and Sale finished the game off by getting Miguel Olivo to strike out after a nine-pitch at-bat. He struck out Olivo on his 119th pitch."I asked him to go back out. He said, 'Yeah, you got to be efficient,' " Sale said, recalling his talk with Ventura. "I wasn't as efficient as I needed to be, I'm just thankful for him to give me that opportunity to go back out there and finish the game."In Sale's previous start, he struck out 15 in 7 1/3 innings at Tampa Bay."Obviously you want to go out there and be good every time out, but I don't think there was any added pressure after (the 15-strikeout game). I take the ball every day with the same mindset," Sale said.Alex Rios drove in two runs for the AL Central leaders.The 23-year-old lanky left-hander had to battle Olivo for the final out. Earlier in the game, Olivo tagged Sale for a long two-run homer."It was tough. Obviously the last hitter of the game, you're just bearing down. He got me early. I was just really trying to keep the ball down to him," Sale said.Sale continues to impress Ventura."Again, what Chris did today was big in a lot of ways," he said. The bullpen has "been used a lot in the stretch. It's just nice to get some rest."Kevin Millwood (3-5) was beset by control problems. He allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings. He struck out four but walked five."He was just missing. He didn't quite have the command he typically has. He wasn't way off. When he was trying to get back, he tried to do a bit much from time to time. He was right there, he was just missing," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.Trailing 2-0 with the bases loaded and two outs in the White Sox second, Brent Lillibridge took a 3-2 pitch that was just off the outside corner to cut the Seattle lead to 2-1. Millwood prevented further damage by getting Gordon Beckham to ground out.Control issues continued for Millwood in the third inning. He issued a leadoff walk to Adam Dunn then hit Dayan Viciedo with a pitch. Rios then tied the game with an RBI single."They were close, but they were balls. Once again, I wasn't locating my fastball very well. For the most part, I was able to keep the ball on the ground, but they found some holes. I walked too many guys. Just wasn't able to make pitches when I needed to," Millwood said.The White Sox took the lead in the fourth. Flowers and Eduardo Escobar singled and Beckham hit an RBI single.With two outs, Rios hit a hard grounder that ricocheted off Millwood's foot. Shortstop Brendan Ryan fielded the ball and made an off-balance throw that was too late to get Rios, allowing another run.
Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez (tweaked back) "still feels it today" and is limited with his activity, according to Wedge. Wedge believes Hernandez will make his next scheduled start on Wednesday. He plans on making the decision on Monday. ... White Sox CF Alejandro De Aza missed the game because of illness. 1B Paul Konerko and C A.J. Pierzynski had the day off. ... White Sox OF Kosuke Fukudome, who got a rare start, left the game early because of back stiffness.