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updated: 8/6/2012 11:24 PM

Sale sharp in return for Sox

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  • White Sox starter Chris Sale reacts after getting a strikeout to end the eighth inning Monday at U.S. Cellular Field. Working on nine days rest, Sale (13-3) pitched 8 solid innings, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits with 7 strikeouts and no walks.

       White Sox starter Chris Sale reacts after getting a strikeout to end the eighth inning Monday at U.S. Cellular Field. Working on nine days rest, Sale (13-3) pitched 8 solid innings, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits with 7 strikeouts and no walks.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

Welcome back, Chris Sale. Good to see you again as well, Gordon Beckham.

The White Sox have been quietly chugging toward something special, but the volume is starting to intensify, especially in the seats at U.S. Cellular Field and the postgame clubhouse.

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And as Monday night's 4-2 win over the Royals in front of 30,097 shows, there is still plenty of room on the Sox' conga line.

After sitting out nine days to give his tiring arm a needed rest, Sale was back on the mound against Kansas City and he looked refreshed and nearly as sharp as he did en route to easily landing a spot on the American League all-star team.

The lanky left-hander was back to throwing 95-mph fastballs with relative ease, and Sale (13-3) held the Royals to 2 runs on 8 hits in 8 innings.

"It felt good," Sale said of his prized wing. "It felt loose. I felt comfortable out there. I just tried not to do too much. Sometimes when you feel too loose you try to do a little bit too much and that's the thing I was trying not to do."

While he's been better in earlier outings, Sale was pretty good. He was burned by two mistake pitches that K.C.'s Jeff Francouer and Billy Butler converted into solo home runs.

The game was tied at 2-2 through seven innings, but the Royals seemingly had the edge when rookie third baseman Tony Abreu led off the eighth with a double and former Sox second baseman Chris Getz followed with a single.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura didn't even have a reliever warming up, so with runners on first and third and no outs, it was Sale's fire to extinguish.

"He's a pretty good pitcher," Ventura said. "It wasn't like he was overworked. You allow him to be able to get out of that."

Sale did just that, getting Alex Gordon to line out to diving shortstop Alexei Ramirez and tagging out Abreu in front of home plate on a botched safety squeeze bunt by Alcides Escobar.

Sale struck out Lorenzo Cain to end the inning, and you knew what was coming next.

"Lately, we've had usually that one inning," said Paul Konerko, who tied the game with a solo home run in the seventh. "It could be the second or third inning or tonight, the seventh or eighth inning. You stop a rally and you cut them off from scoring and give yourself the chance to win the game."

With one out in the eighth, Beckham snapped the tie and lifted the White Sox to their 10th win in 13 games with a home run off Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza.

It was Beckham's first home run since June 20, which came against the Cubs.

"It felt good, more because of the end result," Beckham said. "But it was good. I've had some bad luck, but at the same time, you have bad luck coupled with bad at-bats and it doesn't go your way."

With yet another win, the Sox stayed ahead of the second-place Tigers on what's become a very fast track at the top of the AL Central.

"Just rolling along here," Konerko said. "It's been good up to this point. We've just got to keep grinding. It's going to get tougher, the games get tougher as you get later into the season, but what we're doing right now I think holds up. The way we're playing, the way we're going about it holds up."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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