CHICAGO – The Seattle Mariners knew what to expect this time around from Chris Sale.
That didn’t make it any easier for them.
Kevin Millwood struggled to hit his spots and the Mariners managed just five hits against the young lefty in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Sale (7-2) struck out eight and walked two in his first major league complete game. It was his 10th start this year after pitching in relief for Chicago during the last two seasons.
In Sale’s previous start, he struck out 15 in 7 1/3 innings at Tampa Bay. He struck out 11 Mariners on April 20 in a 7-3 victory in Seattle.
“Throwing from that angle, it’s tough to pick up – when you do, it’s right on you,” Dustin Ackley said of the lanky, side-arming lefty. “The angle, how hard he throws, how long he is, all makes it pretty tough.”
Sale allowed White Sox manager Robin Ventura to rest his entire bullpen after Chicago used all seven relievers in Saturday’s taxing 12-inning loss. The Mariners were not so fortunate.
Staked to an early two-run lead, Millwood (3-5) walked five batters, and allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings. He struck out four.
“I wasn’t locating my fastball very well,” Millwood said. “For the most part, I was able to keep the ball on the ground, but they found some holes.
“I walked too many guys. Just wasn’t able to make pitches when I needed to.”
The White Sox took the lead in the fourth on Gordon Beckham’s RBI single and a hard grounder by Rios that ricocheted off Millwood’s foot. Shortstop Brendan Ryan fielded the ball and made an off-balance throw that was too late to get Rios, allowing another run.
“I thought it was going up the middle and stuck my foot out. I guess I misdirected it a little bit too much,” Millwood said. “That’s another situation where I was able to get the ground ball, just in a bad spot.”
Sale, 23, threw 119 pitches and made only one mistake. Miguel Olivo hit a long, two-run homer to straightaway center on an 0-1 pitch in the second inning. The home run was measured at 448 feet and it was Olivo’s fourth of the season.
The Mariners failed to advance a runner beyond second base after that.
“He did a good job pitching in, he did a good job pitching from behind,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
“He pitched a good ballgame against us. He just kept making pitches when he needed to.”