CHICAGO -- White Sox left-hander Chris Sale won his ninth straight start with a complete game as he outdueled Astros right-hander Collin McHugh in a 2-1 win on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.Sale became the first pitcher since Brandon Webb in 2008 to win each of his first nine
CHICAGO -- White Sox left-hander Chris Sale won his ninth straight start with a complete game as he outdueled Astros right-hander Collin McHugh in a 2-1 win on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale became the first pitcher since Brandon Webb in 2008 to win each of his first nine starts and became only the second White Sox pitcher to win his first nine starts, joining Eddie Cicotte, who won 12 straight in 1919.
"I think everybody should know how we feel about him, how I feel about him," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's special. He's a great pitcher, he's one of the best in the game. I just see him continuing to get better as the season goes along, as he goes through his career."
Sale gave up four hits and also struck out nine to pass Doc White and tie Ted Lyons for eighth on the White Sox all-time strikeouts list with 1,073. His effort made up for a slow offensive night for Chicago, which scored its two runs on Jerry Sands' RBI single in the second and Alex Avila's sacrifice fly in the seventh. The victory also snapped the club's four-game losing streak.
"I just try to go out and do my job every fifth day," Sale said. "That's all I'm trying to do. [To be] 9-0 is cool, it is. I enjoy it. I enjoyed snapping the skid we were in even more so than that."
As dominant as Sale was, McHugh's outing for the Astros is not to be overlooked. He went seven innings and gave up two runs on five hits. He also walked one and struck out eight.
"Sale came as advertised," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's no real surprise as well as he's pitched. It's probably as good a stuff that we've seen all season. We knew it was going to be a tough, low-scoring game. If we could hang in there enough and give ourselves enough opportunities we'd get a chance, and we couldn't scratch anything across early. Got the big home run, got a couple of runners on. He was in pretty much control of the game and Collin matched him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rollins on the run: At 37, Jimmy Rollins can still make plays with his legs. He helped the White Sox get an insurance run in the seventh when he hit a dribbler to the left side with one out. With the Astros in the shift, Rollins was able to easily get an infield single. Rollins then stole second, career steal No. 469, to get into scoring position. After Sands' single moved him to third, Rollins scored on the Avila sacrifice fly.
"It was a huge run," Rollins said. "When [Evan] Gattis hit the home run, I was like, 'That's why you keep pushing.'"
Springer brings one back Astros right fielder George Springer made one of the best catches of the season when he pulled back what would have been a home run off the bat of White Sox slugger Jose Abreu while crashing into the right-field wall in the first inning. More >
"Obviously, I was in a good position to start," Springer said. "He hits the ball hard in that direction, and I believe anything that goes up, I've got a shot to get to it until I can't. I was able to get back to the wall and just jump and catch it."
90 feet too far: A big missed opportunity by the White Sox helped keep the game close. Adam Eaton led off the bottom of the sixth with a line drive to center field, but Jake Marisnick took an awkward route, and the ball bounced off his glove and rolled to the wall, resulting in a triple. But McHugh induced a shallow flyout from Carlos Sanchez before striking out Abreu and getting Todd Frazier to fly out to end the inning.
Gattis catches and goes deep: Gattis, making his first start at catcher since he was with the Braves in 2014, had two of the Astros' three hits against Sale. He singled in the second inning and rocketed his third homer of the season -- second of the series -- in the eighth to cut the lead to 2-1. Gattis also drew raves about the way he called the game. More >
"I thought he handled [McHugh] very well," Hinch said. "I thought they were in sync the entire night. I thought he received well, he blocked a few balls that were big blocks, some that were third strikes and some were on balls that didn't advance [runners]. A well-caught game."
"Let's go, man. We haven't played [the Royals] all year. It's my first time in the division. I know I'm going to be [excited]. I'm going to tell my wife, 'Take care of the kids. It's my day tomorrow.'" -- Frazier, on Chicago's next series against Kansas City
"I couldn't tell you. I knew I was up against the fence and just watched the ball, and tried not to hit it with my face." -- Springer, when asked if the Abreu ball would have been a home run
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sale's complete game was his third this season. The last White Sox pitcher with three complete games in his first nine starts of a year was Jack McDowell in 1991. Sale has won 10 straight starts dating to last season, the seventh-longest streak in franchise history.
Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers (0-0, 9.64 ERA) will make his first start at home on Friday in the series opener against the Rangers at 7:10 p.m. CT. McCullers, who is making his second start since coming off the DL, went 0-2 with a 12.79 ERA vs. Texas in 2015.
White Sox: American League ERA leader Jose Quintana (5-2, 1.54) will be on the mound to open a three-game weekend home series against the Royals on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Quintana is just 1-6 with a 4.27 ERA in his career against Kansas City.
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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.