St. Petersburg, Fla. -- Through no fault of his own, Chris Sale will pitch in the All-Star Game later this month with a losing record.
The White Sox pitcher’s career-worst losing skid reached six Saturday night when he pitched well but received -- yet again -- no run support in a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The loss dropped the White Sox to a season-worst 16 games below .500.
The left-hander, who along with reliever Jesse Crain, was named an American League All-Star, struck out nine as he allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits over seven innings. But Sale’s record dropped to 5-8 as he was outdueled by All-Star snub Matt Moore, who struck out six over 6 1/3 shutout innings.
“He's pitching fine, competing and doing all the things you want him to do,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Not getting any runs, it seems like it's wasted. Good job by him, he pitched his guts out.”
To earn his 12th victory, Moore had to pitch around a pair of dicey situations early.
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The White Sox were more than willing to help out.
Jeff Keppinger started the second inning with a double to left.
But Moore struck out Conor Gillaspie and Dayan Viciedo. Gordon Beckham reached on an infield single but Tyler Flowers popped up the first pitch he saw to strand runners on the corners.
An inning later, Alejandro De Aza ran the White Sox out of another rally.
He reached on a hit by pitch, Alexei Ramirez walked and the two moved up on a wild pitch. But De Aza was caught leaning off third on an Alex Rios liner that resulted in a double play. Adam Dunn flew out to deep left center for the final out, a ball De Aza -- who leads the team with six outs on the bases -- would have scored on easily.
Moore retired 12 of the last 15 he faced.
The team has produced nine runs in the seven starts Sale has made since he last won on May 17. In three of those starts, they have scored no runs for Sale, whose 2.46 run support average is the lowest in the majors.
“That’s six games we should win,” Dunn said.
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Sale wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to win.
Luke Scott gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead in the second inning when he followed a leadoff single and an error with a double to the right field corner. It was the first extra-base hit a left-handed batter had hit in 76 at-bats against Sale this season.
Desmond Jennings then made it 2-0 with an RBI groundout.
Sam Fuld gave the Rays insurance with an RBI single in the sixth inning.
That was enough to do in Sale, who made 118 pitches.
Since his last win, Sale is 0-6 with a 3.10 ERA. He has allowed 20 runs (17 earned) and 40 hits with 10 walks in 49 1/3 innings. He has 62 strikeouts.
At the time of the May 17 win over the Los Angeles Angels, Sale’s ERA was 2.44.
It now stands at 2.78.
“It would be frustrating for anybody,” Sale said. “Not just myself, but everybody in here is frustrated not only when I pitch, just overall. But hey, stuff like this happens. It’s part of the game and it’s just got to get turned around.”