In his last start, Chris Sale squared off with Clayton Kershaw for his most prestigious matchup of his young career. Both starters looked unsettled, and what was supposed to be a low-scoring affair ended in a 7-6 defeat.
Tonight, Sale went head-to-head with Zack Greinke. Both pitchers were as stingy as advertised this time. Still, the White Sox found themselves on the wrong end.
The root problem: The Sox never found themselves on second. Four White Sox reached base -- three singles and a walk -- and all were erased by double plays. Grienke, who averages better than a strikeout per inning, only fanned four Sox over nine innings, but he was better off pitching to contact. The Sox didn't square him up every often, but it found the defense when they did.
Sale matched him pitch-for-pitch over eight of those nine innings, although he faced a little more heat than Greinke did. He saved his best for pressure situations.
In the fifth, Rickie Weeks doubled with one out, and advanced to third on a very wild pitch. Sale bounced back to strike out Cody Ransom and Martin Maldonado to end the threat. Two innings later, another one-out double stayed at second, with Sale escaping the jam by inducing a lineout and a groundout.
Sale struck out seven over his eight innings, allowing just four hits and a walk. Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out Ryan Braun with a terrific 2-2 slider.
Jesse Crain could not extend the game, though, and three pitches did him in. The first was a fastball in the upper-inner part of the zone, which Aramis Ramirez roped into the corner for a double. The second was a slider in the dirt, and even though Tyler Flowers blocked it in fine form, pinch-runner Nyjer Morgan read it so quickly that Flowers had no shot at throwing him out at third.
That brought the infield in, and Rickie Weeks was able to turn on a fastball similar to the one Ramirez saw and knock it past a diving Orlando Hudson for the game's only run.
The Sox tried to get their own stew going in the bottom of the 10th when Gordon Beckham drew a walk to start the inning off the erratic John Axford. But Axford received a gift strike after missing inside on a 1-1 pitch to Adam Dunn, leading to a strikeout. And fittingly, Paul Konerko bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end it.
- Hudson, whose defense lost the game during his last start on Tuesday, looked a whole lot sharper with his glove. He saved Reed some stress in the ninth when he made a max-vertical leaping catch on a soft liner by Norchika Aoki.
- Carlos Gomez swung on a ball that hit his foot, with Mark Wegner reversing the hit-by-pitch call after the appeal to first. Then he admired a medium-range flyout to center.
- Sale picked off Ryan Braun in the first inning, with a rundown that featured two unnecessary throws.