CHICAGO — For a guy who says he's not big into stats, Chris Sale is putting up some really good ones.
"I'm not a numbers guy, I don't care about any of that stuff," Sale said.
Sale (12-3) gave up two hits in eight innings, both singles by Jed Lowrie.
Sale lowered his ERA to an AL-best 1.99, boosting his bid to become the first White Sox pitcher to lead the league in the category since Joe Horlen in 1967. The ace left-hander struck out nine with two walks and retired 17 batters in a row between Lowrie's hits.
The A's lost for the 11th time in 14 games. Their lead in the AL wild-card race slipped to one game over Detroit and 1 1/2 games ahead of Seattle.
"We're playing for our lives now," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Sale said he tries to approach each start the same, but acknowledged pitching against a contender provided extra motivation.
"Knowing where they're going and who they are, you obviously try to (lock in)," he said.
Jake Petricka pitched the ninth, yielding one hit, and got his 13th save in 16 tries.
Kazmir (14-8) called the Athletics' recent stretch "very frustrating" after he went the distance, giving up four hits, striking out seven and walking one.
Semien hit a leadoff homer in the sixth. He started the day with a .216 batting average and three home runs.
"He threw me the first curveball of the game that I've seen from him," Semien said. "I put a good swing on it."
Each pitcher had given up only one single to that point.
The Athletics posed their only threat in the eighth. Lowrie's single and Alberto Callaspo's two-out walk put a runner in scoring position, but Coco Crisp bounced out to end the inning.
Athletics: LHP Sean Doolittle is expected to return from the disabled list Friday. The closer has been sidelined since Aug. 24 because of a strained intercostal muscle. ... OF Craig Gentry was held out of the series finale one day after he suffered a concussion on a play at first base. He's likely to sit out the series in Seattle this weekend. ... C Stephen Vogt won't be available until next week at the earliest with a left ankle sprain.
White Sox: 1B Paul Konerko will test his fractured left hand with some dry swings on Friday then plans to hit short tosses and off a tee Saturday. The veteran could return to action on the next road trip. "I'm going to be back," said Konerko, who will retire after the season. "There's no doubt."
On the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, manager Robin Ventura recalled the role that baseball had in the healing process. "As a player, you didn't realize how important it was to actually get back and play, not necessarily for yourself but for everybody else," said Ventura, who played for the New York Mets at the time. "You went through a period of time where you didn't know if it was OK to smile or laugh or do anything like that. To be able to go back and play and (have) people come to the game, that was their outlet. It was important."
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