After seven consecutive unsuccessful tries, the White Sox finally grunted out a "W" on the road.
The overall effort wasn't pretty. Chris Sale, on the other hand...
The Condor put the Sox on his back, striking out 11 Brewers while allowing just three hits and a walk over eight innings. He did give up a pair of runs -- the first one partially attributable to another ugly defensive start by his teammates, and the other on a hanging slider. But his breaking ball was better on the whole, he kept his velocity throughout the evening, and the combination allowed him to blow through two stop signs.
The first came in the top of the seventh. With the game tied at 2, the Sox had runners on first and second and one out with the pitcher's spot up. For most pitchers, it would have been an easy pinch-hitting call. For Sale ... that probably was still the right call. But Robin Ventura left him in there. The corners played well in on the bunt and cut down the lead runner at third with ease, and the Sox didn't score.
But Sale held up his end of the bargain, pitching a scoreless seventh. After the Sox gave him a 3-2 lead, he pitched a scoreless eighth -- and without a safety net. Even though he crossed 100 pitches and was facing the order a fourth time, Ventura didn't even have relievers stirring, much less loose. But Sale validated Ventura with a strikeout, a flyout, and after a two-out walk, a strikeout on his 110th pitch -- and perhaps his best changeup of the night.
That allowed Ventura to turn the ball over to David Robertson for the ninth, and he made it look easy with two strikeouts and a flyout to center. The White Sox are now 3-12 on the road.
In many ways, the game's tone was like Monday's, just far less severe. The Sox gave the Brewers a quick run when Adam Eaton's unsuccessful dive turned a Jean Segura double into a leadoff triple. A groundout brought the run home and cleared the bases, but the Sox extended the inning twice more. First, Conor Gillaspie booted Carlos Gomez's grounder. Then, after Sale caught Gomez leaning and picked him off, Micah Johnson flat-out dropped the throw to second. Sale finally ended it by getting a popout from Jason Rogers.
Sale's counterpart, Mike Fiers, was perfect through 11 outs. But with two down in the fourth, Jose Abreu took away the perfect game with Elian Herrera couldn't make a stab and good throw across the diamond. It probably should have been a hit and an error, but the scorer wanted the Sox to really earn the hit. The scorer decided they did when Herrera couldn't handle Avisail Garcia's hot smash, which put runners on the corners.
The Sox didn't score that inning, but they broke through in the fifth with surprising swiftness. Alexei Ramirez led off with a double down the right field line, and Tyler Flowers doubled to the left-center gap to tie the game. Then Flowers came around to score on Johnson's seeing-eye single through the right side for the first Chicago lead of the game. That single was big, because had Johnson made an out, Sale would have been an automatic out behind him, giving the Sox only one more bullet.
The two other Sox runs came more at the customary 2015 pace. They loaded the bases with one out on a walk, single, wild pitch, and intentional walk, and Ramirez put them ahead with a sac fly to center.
Likewise, they pushed a run across in the ninth by getting the umpires involved. Johnson reached on "catcher interference" to start the inning, even though the replay showed Martin Maldonado's mitt wasn't anywhere close to Johnson's bat. But a foul tip made some catcher-related noise, Johnson claimed that his swing was hampered, and after Ventura came out to reinforce Johnson's case and the umpires convened, Johnson was awarded first for some reason.
Emilio Bonifacio followed with a nice bunt to the right side. Neal Cotts couldn't field it cleanly, and his flip to first got past the first baseman. But second baseman Hector Gomez ran it down, and his throw to third was in time for Herrera to apply the tag on a diving Johnson for a clear out -- which the umpires didn't see until a challenge.
After all that time on the first two batters, Adam Eaton singled to push Bonifacio to second. Melky Cabrera popped out, but Abreu picked him up by shooting a single through the wide-open right side for an insurance run Robertson didn't need.
*Along with the non-error error (it was called a stolen base), Johnson also had communication problems with Garcia -- including one time on a pop-up in the seventh inning for which Garcia reportedly called loudly and proudly.
*Flowers had his second straight multi-hit game and Bonifacio's bunt single has them both hitting in the .220s now after ugly starts.