Chris Sale did his part. As in 28 innings of scoreless ball over a stellar three-week span. The way the Chicago White Sox have been struggling to score, the left-hander had to know it could be a tough day even if he had all his best stuff.
Josh Donaldson's sixth-inning sacrifice fly ended Sale's career-best scoreless streak, and the White Sox were shut out for the second time in three games in a 2-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday for Chicago's season-high sixth straight defeat.
"I'm glad it's over so we can stop talking about it and get back to normal baseball business and go to Seattle and turn this thing around," Sale said of that superb 28-inning stretch. "I just flat out got outpitched by Parker. Losing a game like this is tough, being shut out. But don't think for a second that I've lost faith or anybody else in here has lost faith in what we know we can do."
Sale was outdueled by Jarrod Parker and lost for the first time in six starts since an April 18 defeat at Toronto. The White Sox matched a season-worst by falling to six games below .500.
The White Sox were held to three runs all weekend.
"I don't think we're playing very good right now, it's pretty obvious," third baseman Conor Gillaspie said. "It will come around, and if it doesn't I'm sure there will be changes. I don't know what else to say."
Sale's 28-inning stretch without allowing a run was the longest by a White Sox pitcher since Wilson Alvarez went 31 scoreless innings from Sept. 11-27, 1993.
The streak by Sale nearly ended last Tuesday, when he pitched three innings against the Cubs before the game was rained out — keeping the run going for at least one more start as the rainout stats don't count.
"It's tough when you're a pitcher and you can't give up a run," White Sox skipper Robin Ventura said. "You've always got to tip your hat to the pitcher, but when you are in a funk like this, how much goes on you?"
His slumping Chicago club missed more chances in the finale.
Adam Dunn hit a two-out double in the fourth that hit at the top of the wall as center fielder Crisp tried to make a play but didn't track it to where it landed and was not in the right place.
But Parker struck out Casper Wells to end the inning moments later. Parker allowed two hits in 6 1-3 innings with two walks. Jerry Blevins got one out in the sixth, Ryan Cook struck out three of the four batters he faced, then Grant Balfour finished the three-hit shutout for his 13th save in as many chances and 31st in a row dating to last season.
Parker (4-6) hung tough in an impressive pitcher's duel with Sale to win back-to-back starts for the first time this year. The right-hander matched his season high with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings as Oakland won for the ninth time in 11 games.
"We know that these guys have been scuffling as of late and we wanted to come out and we wanted to bury them," A's catcher Derek Norris said. "The last thing you want to do is give a team that's struggling a chance to come back and make a run."
Two days after 40-year-old Bartolo Colon's five-hit gem Friday night, Parker shined.
And the A's finally got to Sale.
Coco Crisp drew a leaodff walk in the sixth, then Jed Lowrie singled as Crisp went to third. Sale received a mound visit from pitching coach Don Cooper before facing Yoenis Cespedes. The Cuban star was called out on an 80 mph curveball, then Donaldson had plenty on his flyball to right to bring home Crisp.
Crisp scored again in the eighth when freshly called up center fielder Jordan Danks misplayed Lowrie's single for an error.
Facing a left-handed starter for the seventh time in 10 games, Oakland did just enough a day after stranding 18 runners in a 4-3, 10-inning victory.
Sale lost for the first time in his career against an AL West opponent, dropping to 10-1. He would have become the only pitcher in baseball history to win his first 11 career decisions against the division, according to STATS LLC.
He is the first White Sox pitcher to go six or more innings with two or fewer earned runs in seven straight starts since Gavin Floyd from June 8 to July 10, 2010.
Chicago first baseman and designated hitter Paul Konerko sat out with a recurring stiff neck, but he expects to be back in the lineup Monday at Seattle.