With very few exceptions, every major-league pitcher goes through at least one rocky stretch over the course of the long season.
For White Sox ace Chris Sale, it came in his last two outings. While many of his peers could live with allowing 6 earned runs in 12 innings, Sale wasn't happy with his back-to-back performances heading into Tuesday's late start at San Francisco.
"It's been the last couple starts where my fastball command's been kind of off," Sale said after allowing 2 runs on 3 hits over 6 innings in a loss to the Texas Rangers last Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. "Just work on that between here and next week and hopefully be able to get a little bit deeper into the game next time."
Whatever work Sale did paid off, because he was his usual dominant self against the Giants.
Sale deserved to get the win, but the left-hander had to settle for 8 scoreless innings. He allowed 4 hits and struck out 12.
Leading 2-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Sale was pulled for Jake Petricka, who allowed 2 runs on 4 hits as the game moved to extra innings.
A great defensive play by Gordon Beckham in the bottom of the ninth prevented a loss, and the second baseman's run-scoring single with two outs in the 10th lifted the Sox to a 3-2 victory at AT&T Park.
Adam Dunn's 2-run homer in the first inning off Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong staked Sale and the Sox to the early lead.
Before the game, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters injured right fielder Avisail Garcia could be back from his rehab assignment with Class AAA Charlotte soon, possibly on the Sox' upcoming homestand that opens Friday against the Blue Jays.
When Garcia tore the labrum in his left shoulder after diving trying to make a catch at Colorado on April 9, he had surgery and was ruled out for the season. That obviously has changed.
In 10 games with Charlotte, Garcia has a sparkling .368/.415/.500 hitting line along with 1 home run and 2 RBI.
"His body has held up," Hahn said. "He has made certain plays in the outfield the last few days that have forced him to let it go a little bit. There's been no setbacks. We don't have a magic number or magic performance level in mind that he has to hit. It's more a matter of day in and day out seeing consistent performance and physically feeling strong.
"So far it has gone well, and hopefully we're coming to an end of it in several days or a week or so."