SAN FRANCISCO -- Last season the White Sox couldn’t score for Chris Sale.
The 2014 club can’t hold any of his leads.
The White Sox beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in 10 innings on Tuesday night but not before they blew another victory for Sale. The three-time All-Star exited with a two-run lead after eight dominant innings and 12 strikeouts only to see the bullpen blow another save with him in line for a win.
Jacob Petricka allowed two runs in the ninth inning as Sale earned a no decision for the fourth time this season after leaving with a lead. Gordon Beckham’s two-out, RBI single in the 10th made a winner Zach Putnam, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win.
“(Sale is) a pro,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He understands. It happens, but he pitched a great game. Guys deserve to win when they pitch that well. He threw well. Velocity. Aggressive early. Getting ahead. A couple innings he got in tight situations, but overall he pitched a great game and deserved to win. It didn’t happen, Jake had a hiccup tonight. Put picked him up. Gordon had a good game, the plays he made defensively saves the game for us. He came up with the big hit. He swung it pretty good, too, so it was a good night for him.”
Sale, who has a 2.01 ERA, saw his record stay at 10-2 despite limiting the Giants to four hits and two walks over eight scoreless innings. Before Tuesday’s game, general manager Rick Hahn said improvement is needed in the White Sox bullpen before next season.
Even though the White Sox traded closer Addison Reed away last December, Hahn gave Ventura a bullpen full of solid arms to work with. But injuries to Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom have led to myriad issues. Petricka’s blown save was the 18th in 44 tries for a bullpen that has a 4.47 ERA this season.
“Obviously bullpens are tricky beasts,” Hahn said. “The bottom line is it hasn’t performed to the level we want. It hasn’t performed to the level we want it to going forward. And while we certainly have some bright spots this year and we’re learning about some guys, Petricka and (Zach) Putnam and (Daniel) Webb getting his shot here in the big leagues -- those things will benefit us long term -- we certainly need to get the bullpen to a higher level in the not-to-distant future.”
Sale continues to pitch on that elevated plane.
He only found trouble twice in a 117-pitch performance.
But Sale escaped both unscathed.
In the first inning, he got out of a jam with the help of Alexei Ramirez after a one-out triple by Hunter Pence. Pence got a late break on Buster Posey’s grounder to short and Ramirez, who was playing deep, fired home for the out with the aid of a great tag by Tyler Flowers.
Starting with Posey, Sale retired 18 of 21 batters into the seventh.
He ran into trouble when he allowed a single and issued a two-out walk to Brandon Crawford. But Sale got out of it as he got pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias to pop out.
Sale now has 16 career double-digit strikeout performances, including six in 2014. He’s within one of Ed Walsh’s all-time White Sox record of 17.
Sale’s teammates didn’t afford him much run support against Ryan Vogelsong but he didn’t appear to need it. After Jose Abreu reached on a fielder’s choice in the first inning, Adam Dunn followed with a two-run homer to center, his 18th.
Petricka, who is tied for the team high with eight saves, took over in the ninth inning and allowed three straight singles to load the bases. The Giants scored one but could have had more had it not been for a diving stop by Beckham on Joe Panik’s grounder up the middle with no outs. Beckham flipped the ball to Ramirez to start a double play with a run scoring to make it 2-1.
Petricka then got ahead of Crawford 1-2 in the count but left a pitch up and over the middle and Crawford singled in the tying run.
But Beckham came through in the 10th inning with a two-out RBI single. The end result helped ease Sale’s frustration.
“Any time you leave a game like that you want to win but we ended up winning,” Sale said. “It’s not who gets it, it’s how we get it and any time you come away from a win with a team like this and especially given the atmosphere, those fans are kind of crazy out there. But we’re not listening to any negative susurrations. We’re just fighting. Keep going.”