CHICAGO — Torii Hunter and the Tigers teed off against Chris Sale in the first inning. They couldn't get anything else against the White Sox's ace.
Sale overcame a shaky start to strike out a season-high 13, beating Max Scherzer in a matchup of All-Star aces and leading the Chicago White Sox past the Detroit Tigers 6-3 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer and Tyler Flowers also went deep against Scherzer (15-5), who fanned 11 and walked none in 6 2-3 innings. But he was touched up for six runs, five earned, and nine hits.
Sale (11-3) struck out at least 10 for the 17th time in his career, tying Hall of Famer Ed Walsh for the franchise record. The left-hander reached that figure in 81 major league starts — Walsh made 312 for the White Sox from 1904-1916.
The Tigers tagged Sale for three runs, Ian Kinsler with a leadoff shot and Victor Martinez with a two-run homer.
"We got to Sale early and once they tied the game up this guy found something from within and just shut us down. His slider was good today, he had the changeup working, his fastball was explosive, 95, 96 so Sale is probably one of the best, if not the best lefties in the game. You talk about three of the best lefties, (Clayton) Kershaw, (David) Price and him. Not fun," said Hunter.
The 25-year old left-hander allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings. Jake Petricka pitched the ninth for his 10th save.
"This is a bittersweet team to pitch against. You know what you're getting, but it's tough (to be successful)," said Sale.
The Tigers began the day with a one-game lead over Seattle for the second AL wild card.
"I know we struck out a bunch of times, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a game that Chris Sale pitched this year where there was as many hard hit balls," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
Jose Abreu had three singles and his 98th RBI for the White Sox. He entered the day tied with Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the major league lead.
Chicago beat Scherzer for only the second time in his last 11 decisions. The right-hander had not allowed more than four runs in 12 consecutive starts.
"That was the frustrating part of it. I had great stuff today, anytime you can strikeout 11 and not walk anyone your'e doing things right, but I got beat on a couple of pitches," said Scherzer.
Tigers: RHP Joakim Soria reported no complications one day after he tested his strained left oblique muscle on flat ground. "He feels (discomfort) at certain distances, but it has been a longer distance since he's felt it," manager Brad Ausmus said. "The last time he felt it, it was at 75 feet. This time it was at 90 feet." The hope is that Soria will be able to throw off a mound next week.
White Sox: Abreu shifted from 1B to DH and moved with a noticeable limp, the result of a right leg injury that manager Robin Ventura downplayed before the game. "It's his first time through (a 162-game schedule), and I think he is reacting to it for the first time," Ventura said. "Just talking to him, he understands it. ... He wants to be out there and play against the best players." Abreu has hit .385 since the All-Star break to move into Triple Crown contention, but he has only four home runs during that span.
Tigers LHP Kyle Ryan and White Sox RHP Chris Bassitt were set to make their major league debuts in the nightcap. Both were promoted from the minors for the game.
THEY SAID IT
Sale on Martinez, who is 15 of 28 (.536) with three homers against him: "I've been throwing BP to Victor for about 45 years now."
Did he keep the ball after he struck Martinez out?: "Heck, yeah. I guess it's as fun as it can be when somebody goes out there and completely destroys you every time."
Kinsler hit his 31st career leadoff home run and the second of the season.