Chris Sale struck out 11 in eight solid innings in his return from suspension to lift the Chicago White Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
Chicago ended a seven-game road losing streak despite another modest offensive effort. It didn't matter with Sale (3-1) on the mound, as the lanky left-hander made every run count before David Robertson converted his sixth save to end it.
Milwaukee's Elian Herrera homered for the third straight day, but Brewers reliever Michael Blazek (3-1) faltered late.
Sale looked nothing like the pitcher who'd given up 13 runs over his previous two starts against Minnesota and Detroit in returning from a five-game suspension for his role in an April 23 brawl with Kansas City.
The biggest reason was his command. After walking seven in his previous 8 1-3 innings, Sale didn't allow a walk until two outs in the eighth in notching his 19th career double-digit strikeout game in his 91st career start.
He limited Milwaukee's offense to a pair of big plays — a triple to lead off the game by Jean Segura, who came around to score on Ryan Braun's groundout and Herrera's homer that landed in the Brewers bullpen to lead off the fifth that tied the game at 2.
It had the makings of a pitching duel early when Brewers starter Mike Fiers retired the first 11 batters he faced. Fiers struck out seven and allowed two runs on three consecutive hits in the fifth, but his bullpen didn't help him after leaving with one out in the seventh.
Reliever Will Smith got out of a seventh-inning jam to keep the game tied at 2, but Blazek loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single before Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice fly in the eighth made it 3-2. Jose Abreu's two-out RBI single in the ninth proved to be the final margin.
Chicago improved to a modest 3-12 away from U.S. Cellular Field, still the worst mark in the majors.
White Sox: Manager Robin Ventura settled on a starting rotation Carlos Rodon, John Danks and Jeff Samardzija as the starters for this weekend's series in Oakland after suspensions, injuries and a weekend doubleheader wrecked his bullpen. Coming into Tuesday's game, Chicago relievers had given up 13 earned runs over 14 1-3 innings over the previous three days, making Sale's start all the more important.
Brewers: With a left-hander on the mound and lingering lower back tightness, Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game. Ramirez, who has hit left-handed pitching well in his career, came in with just one hit in 13 at-bats against lefties this year.
White Sox: Jose Quintana (1-3) starts the series finale for Chicago. He's been a hard-luck loser as of late, going 0-2 over his last three starts despite just five earned runs over 19 innings.
Brewers: Milwaukee wraps up this 10-game homestand on Wednesday. Jimmy Nelson (1-3) gets the start coming off a career-high 11 strikeouts last Friday against the Cubs.