CHICAGO (AP) — Chris Sale got into trouble in the fifth inning, allowing back-to-back, two-out singles against the Oakland Athletics. Then the Chicago White Sox left-hander escaped the jam with his 10th strikeout.
Sale struck out 11 in 6 2-3 innings, A.J. Pierzynski had a two-run home run in a five-run sixth inning, and the White Sox beat the A’s 7-3 on Sunday.
Sale (14-3) reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time this season. He had 10 strikeouts through the first five innings, allowed two runs on solo homers, and walked none.
The White Sox lead the Detroit Tigers by two games in the AL Central.
“He was throwing a little harder today than he has in the past few outings,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “He was able to dial it up whenever he needed it and still was sharp with his slider, too.”
Oakland starter Bartolo Colon (9-9) allowed six runs — five earned — and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out two and walked two. With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Pierzynski’s 23rd homer put the White Sox up 3-1.
Dewayne Wise, in his first start with Chicago this season, added an RBI single. After A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes committed an error, and Colon issued an intentional walk, Gordon Beckham delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single to make it 6-1.
The A’s struggled defensively, making three errors and failing to cover home in the seventh when theWhite Sox added their final run.
Pierzynski scored from first on Alexei Ramirez’s groundout to shortstop as third baseman Adam Rosales and shortstop Cliff Pennington bumped on the play. No one covered home plate.
“They’re going to give you something, you’re going to go ahead and take it,” Ventura said. “A.J. is heads up and he kept going. There was nobody there. Usually guys rotate around.”
Sale allowed home runs to Rosales, his second of the year, and Jonny Gomes, who added his 14th. Gomes has homered in three straight games. Derek Norris homered off Addison Reed in the ninth.
Sale improved to 7-2 with a 1.80 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field this season.
“One thing he does great, he changes speeds tremendously,” Pierzynski said. “One can be 95 (mph) and the next can get be 86. That’s why he gets a lot of groundballs. That’s why he gets a lot of popups because guys are constantly off balance because of his stuff and his ability to change speeds.”
Chicago took a 1-0 lead on Adam Dunn’s sacrifice fly in the third. The A’s hit back-to-back, two-out singles in the fifth, but Sale escaped the jam with his 10th strikeout.
Sale was checked in the fifth inning after he twisted his left knee slipping on the infield grass while trying to field an infield single.
After warmup tosses, he remained in the game.
“Everything was fine,” Sale said. “It was just something crazy, foot went one way, knee went the other. Kind of nervous at first, and once I got around and moving on it, everything was fine.”
Pennington made two errors, but also had two singles against Sale.
“It wasn’t our best defensive day,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “The play was embarrassing, obviously, when Pierzynski went all the way around. (Catcher Norris is) trying to cover third when the third baseman and shortstop converge.
“You either have to read that and get back or the pitcher has to rotate around and get home. We didn’t cover that very well, so that doesn’t sit very well with anybody.”
Notes: White Sox 1B Paul Konerko will undergo a concussion-related test on Monday. If the results are encouraging, the 36-year-old player can resume baseball activities Tuesday and be activated from the 7-day disabled list as early as Friday. White Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis (left arm, right knee) was out of the lineup and is day-to-day. He was hit by a pitch in the arm on Saturday. “It’s not a fracture or anything, but it’s swollen and it doesn’t feel too good,” Ventura said. The White Sox optioned OF Jordan Danks to Triple-A Charlotte and will make a corresponding roster move on Monday. Ventura said the team will add a reliever. . A’s 3B Brandon Inge will fly to Oakland to have an MRI on his dislocated right shoulder. He was out of the lineup Sunday after he was injured on a diving play Saturday. Inge, who said he felt sore, hopes to return to the lineup Tuesday after Monday’s off day. . The A’s switched their Wednesday and Thursday probable starters against Kansas City, scheduling Brandon McCarthy for Wednesday and Dan Straily for Thursday. McCarthy (shoulder) returned from the disabled list on Friday.
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