NEW YORK -- Chris Sale’s defense let him down on Sunday afternoon and he uncharacteristically fell apart.
Sale was in the midst of a gem in the sixth inning when Dayan Viciedo’s dropped fly ball jumpstarted a four-run New York Yankees rally rife with walks, a hit batsmen and a rare RBI from a left-handed hitting opponent. Four innings later, the White Sox were swept off the field as Brian McCann hit a three-run walkoff homer to lift the Yankees to a 7-4 victory in 10 innings at Yankee Stadium.
McCann worked a full count before he lined one just inside the right-field foul pole off Jacob Petricka for a pinch-hit homer.
But Sale refused to put the blame on anyone but himself after the White Sox lost their sixth in a row and 13th in 17 games to drop to a season-worst 12 games below .500.
“Stuff like that happens,” Sale said. “You have to find a way to get through that and unfortunately for myself and my team I was not able to get through that.
“I just wasn’t able to capitalize when I needed to. Things kind of just unraveled for me in the sixth, just left pitches up to guys that will make you pay and that was that.”
Sale appeared ready to push deep into Sunday’s game.
He had already retired Derek Jeter and on his seventh pitch of the inning and 81st of the game, Sale got Martin Prado to hit a fly ball to left-center field. Viciedo -- who could have been charged with an earlier error as well -- ran far to track the ball down but arrived in plenty of time only for it kick off his glove for an error, his eighth.
With Prado on second, Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI double to cut the White Sox lead to 3-1 and the wheels started wobbling. Sale walked Carlos Beltran but struck out Chase Headley.
But then for only the second time all season, Sale issued two walks in the same inning as Francisco Cervelli earned a free pass to load the bases. On the next pitch, Sale hit Zelous Wheeler to force in a run and then he left a changeup up to Ichiro Suzuki, who singled in a pair to make it 4-3. Suzuki’s RBIs were the first by a left-handed hitter off Sale since Joe Mauer 53 weeks earlier on Aug. 17, 2013.
“He’s going pretty good, you don’t make the play in left and double,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It just spiraled on him pretty quick. Uncharacteristic for him to hit a guy and walk a couple guys so. I think in the sixth right there he’s in control of the game and it’s his at that point.”
Asked if the dropped fly ball affected him, Sale said “none whatsoever.” The three-time All-Star did notice the increase in the volume of the Yankee Stadium crowd but said the rest of the inning was on him.
But Ventura wasn’t as forgiving only a day after Alejandro De Aza sparked a Yankees rally when he lost McCann’s routine fly ball in the sun.
“Those should be made,” Ventura said. “And you’re always giving them opportunities, that’s the biggest thing. Once you have them where you have them and you give a lineup like that opportunities they’re going to make you pay for it.”
Sale allowed four unearned runs and seven hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out seven.
He had been outstanding and economical prior to the sixth. Sale never allowed more than a runner to reach base and needed 74 pitches to complete five scoreless frames, striking out six and facing three over the minimum.
He lowered his ERA to an American League-low 2.03.
“Amazing,” outfielder Avisail Garcia said of Sale’s effort. “We make a couple of mistakes. Everything happens, it’s baseball. You have to keep your head up and play hard.”
The White Sox staked Sale a lead before he even set foot on the mound as Alexei Ramirez started the game with a solo home run to left off Chris Capuano, his 12th homer of the season.
Then in the sixth, Conor Gillaspie increased the lead to three runs when he belted a two-run homer off Capuano, his sixth.
The White Sox didn’t score again until the ninth inning when Garcia hit a game-tying solo homer off Yankees closer Daniel Robertson. Garcia -- who had struck out seven times and was hitless in his first 11 at-bats of the series -- sliced a first-pitch homer into the right-field bleachers to even it at 4.
“It was just one of those things that I needed to capitalize and unfortunately for myself and my team I didn’t,” Sale said.