So this is refreshing: With Chris Sale facing a struggling Cubs lineup, the White Sox had all the runs they needed before they made an out.
The Sox greeted Jon Lester with an Adam Eaton double, a Tyler Saladino triple and a Jose Abreu single to put a 2-0 lead on him before he could even get settled. Sale, on the other hand, pitched into the eighth and returned to striking out 10 batters after a one-start sabbatical to win the duel between staff leaders.
Saladino's hit -- a line drive that split the right center gap -- was crucial, and not just because it was the first of his career. It knocked in a run, and also prompted Joe Maddon to bring his infield in. That made Abreu's job simple, as he just bounced a single past Starlin Castro for the Sox' second run.
Sale's day wasn't as easy as the score or his line (one run, six hits, one walk, 10 strikeouts) make it appear. He had to pitch a fair amount from the stretch and didn't record a 1-2-3 inning until the fifth. Sale minimized the real danger, though. The Cubs only had him cornered once, after Anthony Rizzo's single put runners on the corners with one out in the third. Sale responded by striking out Kris Bryant and getting Jorge Soler to fly out, ending the threat.
The Cubs did eventually score their first run of the series in the seventh, as Jonathan Herrera's one-out double past third base scored Castro all the way from first. That didn't really register, though, since the Sox extended their lead to 5-0 in the top of that inning.
Melky Cabrera led off the seventh with a single. Avisail Garcia followed with a chopper to the left side. Bryant thought about getting the lead runner, but he had a second thought and opted to first. He failed to make an accurate throw, though, and it got past Rizzo and allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Alexei Ramirez cashed in one with a single, and then Tyler Flowers broke it open by hammering a double over the head of Dexter Fowler in center for two more runs.
That lead allowed Sale to go into economy mode toward the end of his start, although there's an argument that Robin Ventura could have lifted him for a pinch hitter toward the end of that seventh-inning surge. Instead, he batted for himself against Lester and put up a surprising fight before flying out on a good-looking swing on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
Sale exited after allowing a single to Rizzo to open the eighth, but Jake Petricka stranded the runner, then recorded two outs in the ninth before Zach Duke induced a groundout from Chris Coghlan to end it.
*Joe McEwing tried sending Cabrera home on a single to left with two outs in the eighth inning, but Chris Denorfia gunned him down easily.'
*Cabrera did steal his first base of the year in order to get to second, so maybe McEwing thought Cabrera had the good wheels.
Record: 41-44 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights