Adam Dunn hit a two-run single in the first inning and Chris Sale did the rest as the Chicago White Sox eked past the struggling Kansas City Royals, 3-1, in the opener of a three-game series
The Royals, hoping to continue their recent success at U.S. Cellular Field, ran into a buzzsaw in Sale, who tossed seven innings of one-run ball in lowering his ERA to 2.03 on the year.
Sale (9-1) scattered seven hits and a walk while fanning eight as Chicago came away victorious for the fourth time in six games.
“I felt really good tonight,” Sale said. “These are the dog days, and we have to bear down now.”
Kansas City, which had won 10 of its previous 11 as the visitor in this AL Central series, has scored just 17 runs during a 1-7 slump.
Jeremy Guthrie (5-9) settled down after a rough start but still took the loss, having allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over six frames.
Adam Eaton led off the home first with a base hit, Guthrie plunked Alexei Ramirez, and Jose Abreu reached on a Danny Valencia error to load the bases.
Dunn beat the shift with a base hit up the middle to plate a pair, and even though Guthrie limited the damage to just those two runs, it was enough support for Sale.
The only run the Royals produced off the stingy lefty came in the fourth when Alex Gordon singled, stole second with two away and scored on Valencia’s base hit to center.
Alcides Escobar followed with a double down the left-field line, and Valencia nearly scored the tying run but was thrown out at the plate on a perfect relay between Alejandro De Aza and Ramirez.
The White Sox added an insurance run in the sixth, as they loaded the bases and watched Dunn avoid Brett Hayes’ swipe tag on Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice fly to center. Jarrod Dyson’s throw home was up the line, and replay confirmed Hayes narrowly missed the slow-moving Dunn before he crossed the plate.
Sale stranded a pair in the sixth by striking out Valencia and Escobar, then retired the side in the seventh before giving way to the bullpen.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Valencia said of Sale. “He’s got three really good pitches.”
Ronald Belisario hurled a 1-2-3 eighth, and Jake Petricka tossed a scoreless ninth to post his fourth save of the year.