CHICAGO — Almost as soon as he stepped on the mound, Jon Lester fell into a hole. Once he settled down, he did not get the support he needed.
Lester got outpitched by Chris Sale, and the Chicago Cubs lost 5-1 to the White Sox on Saturday.
Sale (8-4) showed why he was picked to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game, dominating into the eighth while leading the White Sox to their ninth win in 11 games. He helped put them in position to sweep the weekend series, and they improved to 13-6 since dropping eight in a row last month.
Lester's winless streak reached 10 starts — not what he or the Cubs envisioned after he signed a $155 million contract over the winter.
He struggled in April and pitched well in May. Since then, it has been a mix of bad starts and bad luck for him.
"I feel like I've been OK to the point where I've looked up at the stats a little bit and kind of wondered what's going on," Lester said. "But it is what it is. At the end of the day, you can't give up more than the other guy and I've been doing that."
The South Siders took a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI triple by rookie Tyler Saladino for his first major league hit and a run-scoring single by Jose Abreu.
They broke open the game with three more in the seventh against Lester (4-8), making the most of Kris Bryant's errant throw on Avisail Garcia's grounder. The 11th error for the rookie third baseman put runners on second and third with no outs.
Alexei Ramirez then singled in a run and Tyler Flowers had a two-run double for a 5-0 lead, more than enough support for Sale.
The lanky left-hander gave up one run and six hits. He departed after Anthony Rizzo led off the eighth with a single.
Sale struck out 10 after his record-tying streak of eight consecutive starts with at least 10 Ks ended against Toronto on Monday.
Lester is 0-6 since he beat Pittsburgh on May 16.
The lefty was charged with four earned runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out eight without a walk but got little support from a team that nearly got shut out for the second game in a row.
"We've seen good pitching," manager Joe Maddon said. "That's it. We are a swing-and-miss team. That's part of our DNA. They've gotten the better of us, but I'm not discouraged in the least."
As for Lester?
"He was outstanding," Maddon said. "They got him early. I give them credit."
Lester, who took a no-hitter to the seventh against St. Louis on Monday, fell behind 2-0 three batters into the game. He gave up a double off the wall in left-center to Adam Eaton, Saladino's triple and an RBI single by Abreu, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Lester retired 14 in a row before Melky Cabrera singled leading off the seventh. Bryant then overthrew first after fielding Garcia's grounder, and the White Sox tacked on three more runs.
Lester said he made three mistakes — to Eaton, Saladino and Flowers.
"Somehow, I make three mistakes and give up five runs," he said.
Both teams made some nice defensive plays.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro made a diving stop and long throw from the hole to rob Saladino in the third. In the fourth, Garcia ran down Chris Denorfia's drive to the right-field corner.
White Sox: Ramirez said he is still feeling some pain after fouling a ball off his left foot Wednesday against Toronto. The shortstop was in the lineup for the second straight game after sitting out Thursday against the Blue Jays.
Cubs: C Miguel Montero exited the game because of a jammed left thumb and was going for an MRI. He struck out swinging in the second inning and did not take the field in the third. Taylor Teagarden replaced him behind the plate. ... C David Ross has been cleared to return from a mild concussion.
RHP Jake Arrieta (9 -5, 2.80 ERA) goes for his 10th win for the Cubs, while LHP Jose Quintana (4-8, 3.69 ERA) starts for the White Sox. Arrieta is 3-0 in his past four starts.