KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chris Sale got some unexpected help to get his 16th win.
A rare Carlos Sanchez home run lifted Sale, who pitched his American League-leading sixth complete-game, and the Chicago White Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Sanchez had struck out in his first three at-bats before hitting a pitch from Kelvin Herrera out to right with J.D. Shuck and Avisail Garcia aboard.
“I threw my arms up in the air,” Sale said when Sanchez homered. “It was crazy. That’s your team fighting for you right there; that’s your team fighting back. You know what Herrera brings to the table. He’s one of the best. You guys have seen it. So, to be able to put up a four spot in that inning was huge.”
It was Sanchez’s first home run since last Sept. 21 at Detroit.
“Sanchez has been up and down this year and there have been times when he hasn’t clicked,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But, when he gets some playing time I think he’s improved enough. He’s got enough pop. When he’s hitting it well, it’ll carry. I think that’s something that’ll come with him. This is, I hope, the start of that for him in his career.”
Todd Frazier doubled with one out and scored on Alex Avila’s single for the first run of the inning. The four-run inning, gave Sale a boost to finish the game.
“No doubt,” Sale said. “It changes the complete landscape of the game, obviously. We’re down two, we scored one and hit a three-run homer. I just have to go out and not mess up too badly.”
Sale (16-8), 1-6 in his previous 11 starts, limited the Royals to four runs, three earned, while striking out 10 and walking one.
Kansas City has lost five straight and will need a miracle to return to postseason after winning the past two American League championships.
Herrera (2-5) blew his third save in 14 chances.
“I had trouble with my release point,” Herrera said. “It was a little off. I felt a little off with my command for some reason. This is a tough league.”
Ian Kennedy, who held the White Sox to one hit over six innings Sunday to beat Sale in a 2-0 win, threw 74 pitches in the first three innings, but made it through six, allowing two runs, five hits, three walks and a sacrifice fly. He retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
“I had to talk my way into going out for the sixth inning just because the bullpen had been so taxed the last couple of days,” Kennedy said. “I wanted to stay in at least one more inning. It was a grind.”
Kennedy walked the bases loaded with none out in the second, but escaped by allowing just one run, with Frazier scoring on Leury Garcia’s grounder.
Sale retired the first 13 batters he faced before giving up seven hits and four runs to the next 10 batters.
Salvador Perez’s single with one out in the fifth was the Royals’ first hit. Cheslor Cuthbert’s double moved Perez to third. Hunter Dozier, who was making his first major league start, had an infield single, scoring Perez, and Cuthbert raced home on shortstop Tyler Saladino’s throwing error, to tie the score at 2.
Billy Burns opened the Royals sixth with a bunt single and scored when Whit Merrifield drilled a triple to left-center. Kendrys Morales singled home Merrifield.
Jose Abreu, who singled in his first two at-bats for his 12th multi-hit game in his past 18 games, scored in the third on Frazier’s sacrifice fly.
Melky Cabrera homered in the ninth off Peter Moylan, while Saladino had three of the White Sox 11 hits.
RHP Nick Tepesch, who was designated for assignment, cleared waivers and Royals sent him outright to Triple-A Omaha. Tepesch, who is a Missouri alumnus, is 7-15 in 35 games, including 33 starts, in the majors with the Rangers and Dodgers.
White Sox: DH Justin Morneau missed his fourth straight game with a stiff neck.
Royals: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (right biceps tendinitis) said his arm feels good after throwing two bullpen sessions. He was scheduled to throw batting practice Friday, but a pregame rain canceled that.
White Sox: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, who is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two September starts, will start Saturday.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas makes his first start since July 21, 2015, and rehabbing from reconstructive elbow surgery.