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Wobbly Sale strong enough to deny Yanks

Despite four walks and a wild pitch, White Sox ace prevails

CHICAGO -- Talk about a strange storyline coming from the White Sox 3-2 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Ace left-hander Chris Sale, who had issued 31 free passes in 142 innings entering the contest, issued a season-high-tying four walks, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.

Paul Konerko -- who, as a staple of the organization for the past 15 years, has many standout qualities, excluding speed -- used his legs to beat out a would-be inning-ending double-play grounder in the sixth to give the White Sox a one-run lead.

And Alex Rodriguez, who received around-the-clock media attention on Monday, was little more than just another player in the Yankees' lineup. He was sitting on deck in the ninth when Alfonso Soriano struck out as the potential go-ahead run against Addison Reed (27th save) to end the game.

Oh, yes. The White Sox (42-69) also won for the second time in as many nights.

That's right; the team that had a 10-game losing streak entering this 10-game homestand, the team that hadn't put together back-to-back wins since July 20 and 21 at home against Atlanta, took down the offensively challenged Yankees (57-55) again.

"I don't know where it's going to take us," said Sale of his team's mini-run, which gave the White Sox an 11-10 record against the American League East this season. "But winning is a heck of a lot more fun than losing."

"You always play hard," Konerko said. "Where we are at as far as the team right now, just the whole year, all we have is the game we are playing and to try to really do our best in that game."

Sale (7-11) did exactly what a staff's No. 1 pitcher is supposed to do -- keep his team in the game with less than his best command. The All-Star lefty allowed a run in the first inning without giving up a hit, walking Brett Gardner before his defense was unable to turn a double play on Soriano's grounder.

Soriano swiped second base and came all the way around to score on a Sale wild pitch that catcher Josh Phegley couldn't find. Entering the night with one win since the beginning of June and the lowest run support in the Majors at 2.47 runs per game, Sale was in trouble right from the start with that tally.

But the White Sox defense picked up Sale, with Alejandro De Aza throwing out Gardner at the plate to end the third when Gardner elected not to slide on Robinson Cano's single to left. The White Sox offense took over from there, words not heard too frequently by Sale this season, and the left-hander did the rest.

"Obviously, when I see those guys coming to town, I don't know if I did more," said Sale, whose work covered 7 1/3 innings and 108 pitches, and included six strikeouts and just five hits. "In the back of your mind, you know it's the greatest franchise in all of sports. You have to bring your 'A' game for sure."

"You're not going to get a lot of opportunities off Sale," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been stingy, the way he's been pitching, so you have to take advantage. We weren't able to do it tonight."

Hiroki Kuroda (10-7) has been even stingier than Sale, his 2.45 ERA comparing favorably to Sale's 2.83 through Tuesday. The White Sox still got to the right-hander for a run in the fourth on Adam Dunn's single, a wild pitch and Conor Gillaspie's game-tying single to right.

Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios opened the sixth with singles, and Ramirez reached third with one out on Dunn's fielder's-choice grounder. Konerko followed with a hard chopper to third baseman Jayson Nix, who quickly got the ball to Cano at second despite backing up a step or two, but Konerko's hard running down the line beat Cano's relay and allowed Ramirez to score.

Konerko could only laugh postgame when asked about busting a move in this crucial moment.

"Usually I get one of those a year, and that was it," Konerko said. "It was obviously a double play that takes a third baseman deep like that -- that's probably the one shot I've got. I did get out of the box well, and for me, it was the best I've got. It kind of takes those two things for that to happen."

"He works constantly on his speed, as we all know, and he blazed a trail down to first and got us the win," said a smiling White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham of the captain. "All kidding aside, that's pretty gutsy for him to do that, because his back is probably not 100 percent. He's gutting it out, and you've got to like that. That's why he's Paulie. We love him."

De Aza added a run-scoring double in the seventh, bringing home Beckham with two outs and helping give Sale a much-deserved victory. The three runs of support Sale got were one better than the two he'd received in his previous three starts combined.

In his last 12 starts, Sale features a 2-9 record. He also has a 3.06 ERA and 100 strikeouts over 85 1/3 innings during that stretch.

"Every situation you're in is a learning experience: Good, bad or indifferent," Sale said. "Each outing, you learn something, and I learned a lot last year having success and facing some adversity this year. You take the good with the bad through it all."

"Tonight was a good night," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "[Sale] did his part, and the offense did enough."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
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