CHICAGO - Lanky left-hander Chris Sale continued his quest toward his first 20-win season, striking out 11 and scattered six hits as the Chicago White Sox topped the visiting Oakland A's 7-3 on Sunday.
In his third outing of 10 or more strikeouts this season, Sale (14-3) once again was nothing short of outstanding, giving up just two solo home runs while not allowing a walk to the A's (61-53).
The White Sox, meanwhile, remained in first place in the American League Central, improving to 62-51.
Sale gave up just three hits while striking out nine batters in the first five innings, while protecting a close 1-0 lead.
In the first, Josh Reddick struck out swinging, but was able to reach base when Sale was charged with a wild pitch. But the next batter, Yoenis Cespedes, struck out swinging to end the inning.
In the third, Cliff Pennington led off with a single, only to be subsequently erased when he was tagged out in a run down after leading off first base too far.
In the fifth, the A's threatened to break things open when Adam Rosales and Pennington reached base on back-to-back, two-out singles. However, Jemile Weeks ended the threat when he struck out swinging.
The White Sox failed to score in the first inning, despite having three runners on base via a throwing error, fielder's choice and single, stranding two runners at the end of the inning.
But they made up for their first-inning shortcoming in the third. Alejandro De Aza walked, went to third on a throwing error on a fielder's choice by A's shortstop Pennington (Gordon Beckham was safe at first), and De Aza scored on Adam Dunn's sacrifice fly to deep left-center. Alex Rios followed with a double, but Beckham was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first, ending the inning with just one run scored overall.
The White Sox almost added another run in the bottom of the fifth when Beckham's long drive to deep center field was grabbed at the wall by A's center fielder Coco Crisp.
Sale gave up a solo home run (14th of the season) to designated hitter Jonny Gomes in the top of the sixth, tying the score at 1-1. Cespedes followed with a two-out single, but Sale struck out Chris Carter looking to end the season.
The White Sox came back in a big way with a five-run sixth inning. Rios singled to left, followed by A.J. Pierzynski's 23rd home run of the season, putting Chicago back ahead 3-1. Dayan Viciedo doubled into the right field corner, followed by an RBI single from Dewayne Wise, whose contract was purchased Saturday from AAA Charlotte.
Third baseman Ray Olmedo followed with a single to left and reached second following a throwing error by A's left fielder Cespedes that allowed Wise to safely reach third. De Aza followed with a two-out walk to load the bases for Beckham.
That was a bad choice for losing A's starter Bartolo Colon (9-9), as Beckham came through with a two-run single off his old teammate, scoring Wise and Olmedo, increasing the White Sox lead to 6-1. In the resulting throw to the plate, Beckham went to second while De Aza advanced to third.
That spelled the end for Colon, as left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins was brought on to try to extinguish the White Sox rally, only to walk the first batter he faced, Dunn, before Rios ended the inning by hitting into a fielder's choice.
In the top of the seventh, Rosales hit his second home run of the season, an estimated 407-foot blast to deep center, to close the White Sox lead to 6-2.
Getting Pennington to ground to second, Sale was relieved by Nate Jones, earning a rousing standing ovation from the 25,106 fans on hand.
After Pierzynski led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, a rather odd play followed. A's third baseman Rosales and shortstop Pennington collided while trying to make the play on a grounder by Ramirez. Pennington managed to recover to throw out Ramirez at first.
But while the A's nonchalantly thought the play was over, Pierzynski smartly continued around the bases and scored from first, with the A's not having anyone near home plate to challenge Pierzynski.
Addison Reed came on in the top of the ninth, giving up a solo home run to Derek Norris, but still held on to earn his 21st save of the season, tying a team record for most saves by a rookie pitcher (Salome Barojas had 21 in 1982).
Sunday marked the end of a nine-game, 10-day homestand for the White Sox, who hit the road for a seven-game trip to Toronto (four games) that starts on Monday, followed by a three-game weekend series at Kansas City.
The A's, meanwhile, have a day off Monday before continuing their road trip with a three-game set at Kansas City.
NOTES: White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was a pre-game scratch, still bothered by a bruised left wrist suffered after being hit by a pitch in Saturday's game. ... Chicago outfielder Paul Konerko will remain on the seven-day disabled list for concussion symptoms through at least Friday. He was placed on the DL this past Friday after he was elbowed in the temple during at play vs. the Royals last Tuesday. ... The White Sox also transferred left-handed pitcher John Danks to the 60-day disabled list, the team announced.
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