HOUSTON (AP) - Chris Sale struck out a season-high 14 batters and didn't allow an earned run against the Houston Astros on Friday night.
But instead of celebrating a win, a pair of errors by Alexei Ramirez left the Chicago White Sox with another road loss and left the pitcher to console his shortstop.
Erik Bedard pitched six solid innings, and Jose Altuve hit a go-ahead RBI single to give the Astros a 2-1 win.
Ramirez committed two errors in the fifth inning to help the Astros take the lead. The miscues ruined a great outing by Sale (5-5), who scattered five hits over eight innings in his first career complete-game loss.
Sale had retired 11 of 12 before Ronny Cedeno reached with no outs in the fifth on the first error by Ramirez.
Cedeno advanced to second on a wild pitch by Sale with two outs before Trevor Crowe drew a walk. The second error by Ramirez came when he badly overthrew second base on a force play, which allowed Brandon Barnes to reach, Crowe to move to third, and Cedeno to score.
Houston took a 2-1 lead when Altuve singled on a sharp grounder which scored Crowe.
Ramirez didn't speak to reporters after the game, but was visibly distraught when the group entered the clubhouse. He remained in his uniform sitting motionless at his locker with his head buried in his hands.
Sale called Ramirez ``one of the best' after the game and said no one can be perfect all the time.
``I went over there and tapped him on the shoulder and said: `Hey, you're still the best. Stuff happens. Derek Jeter makes errors. Things happen to great players sometimes,'' Sale said.
Sale was pitching on extra rest after he was scheduled to start Chicago's game against Toronto on Wednesday, which was postponed due to bad weather. He took a third straight loss despite coming just one strikeout shy of his career best of 15.
He joins Yu Darvish of the Rangers and Detroit's Anibal Sanchez as the only pitchers to have at least 14 strikeouts in a game this season.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura was disappointed that his team wasn't able to help back up Sale's performance.
``It's obviously frustrating to lose when you get a pitching performance like that,' Ventura said. ``Chris threw great. They just had an inning where they scored a couple runs and never hit the ball out of the infield. It's a tough one as far as the way he pitched, and you want to get better.'
The White Sox, who entered the game having won three of four, continued to struggle on the road and have dropped 10 of 11 away from Chicago. They have been outscored 62-34 in that span.
``You don't want to hang your head,' Sale said. ``Obviously, it's disappointing, but at the end of the day, these guys are grinding it out and not giving anybody anything. I know everyone in here is fighting and grinding, and that's the main goal.'
Jose Cisnero and Travis Blackley combined to pitch two scoreless innings before Jose Veras threw a scoreless ninth for his 12th save.
Paul Konerko doubled to start the fourth inning and advanced to third on a passed ball by Carlos Corporan. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead when Konerko scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Dunn.
Casper Wells walked to start the fifth inning and got to third on a single by Ramirez with two outs. The White Sox came up empty when Bedard struck out Alex Rios to end the inning.
Bedard got into trouble in the second when he loaded the bases on a single by Wells with two outs, but he escaped the jam by striking out Tyler Flowers.
Ventura lamented his team's inability to score more than one run in Friday's game.
``You want more out of it than that,' he said. ``We had opportunities, and we had chances with guys getting on base, but we just never got it done.'
Before his tough fifth inning, Ramirez robbed Chris Carter of a hit when he made a leaping catch on a sharp liner to end the fourth.
NOTES: The White Sox are scheduled to start left-handers in each of the four games of this series. It will be the first time Houston has faced four straight left-handers since September 2002 when they faced two from the Dodgers followed by two against Colorado, according to information provided by the Astros from the Elias Sports Bureau. ... The series will continue on Saturday when Houston's Lucas Harrell opposes John Danks. ... OF Alejandro De Aza was out of the lineup on Friday because of a stomach problem. Ventura said he was sent to a hospital in Houston to be checked out. ``There's nothing major ... going on,' Ventura said. ``I don't know what it is. I just know he wouldn't be able to start tonight.'... Houston OF Justin Maxwell, on the disabled list with a broken bone in his left hand, is on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Astros manager Bo Porter said there is no timetable for his return to the team. ... Houston signed four picks from this year's draft on Friday. They were fourth-round pick 1B Conrad Gregor, sixth-round pick C Jacob Nottingham, 21st-round selection OF Jon Kemmer, and 38th-round pick OF Ronnie Mitchell.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved