Chris Sale has been virtually unhittable since returning to the White Sox' rotation after his stint on the disabled list, and it was more of the same Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale tossed a complete game while allowing just 2 hits -- on back-to-back at-bats in the fifth inning. He struck out nine with no walks in a 4-1 victory over the San Diego Padres.
"I was trying to throw as many strikes as I could," he said. "I knew this team was going to come out swinging. Not only that, but quality pitches as well. I was just trying to keep the ball down and get after it a little bit."
Over his last 22 innings pitched, including his minor-league rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte when he struck out 11 in 4 innings, Sale has allowed 1 run, 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 34.
"I'm just trying to do what I always do," he said. "I'm just trying fill up the zone, throw quality strikes, and get as deep as I can in the game. As a starting pitcher, that's your job -- to go out there and get as far as you can, and hopefully when you leave you've got a lead."
Manager Robin Ventura said Sunday's game was as efficient as Sale has ever been, and that he consistently located his pitches in the lower part of the strike zone.
"I think you go through a period where you pitch a few innings, and you get a breather, and you get a shot of adrenaline where you're feeling strong and healthy and going back out there nothing's on his mind right now," Ventura said.
"I think before, he probably had something nagging him or bothering him physically, and right now nothing is doing that."
Catcher Tyler Flowers said the run of success Sale has had recently probably is the best he has seen the ace lefty throw.
"From a consistency standpoint, yeah," said Flowers, who hit a solo home run Sunday. "Being able to throw the off-speed pitches for strikes and being able to throw them just out of the zone late in counts. Obviously fastball command is a big part of having an opportunity to do the off-speed pitches.
"He's been a lot of fun to catch."
Paul Konerko provided most of the offense for the White Sox, going 2-for-3 with a home run and a double to drive in 3 runs.
"It was a good day. I'm just trying to chip in," Konerko said. "I'm here to have good days against left-handed pitching."
Sale finished with 100 pitches, so there were no worries about an excessive pitch count Sunday. The game clocked in at 2 hours and 8 minutes, the fastest White Sox game of the season.