CLEVELAND — September has not been kind to All-Star pitcher Chris Sale.The left-hander lost his third straight start, allowing seven runs in seven innings, as the Cleveland Indians beat the White Sox 12-1 on Friday night.
Sale (12-10), whose last win came Aug. 21, surrendered a grand slam to Carlos Santana as part of a six-run third inning. All those runs were unearned, thanks to an error by Chicago second baseman Carlos Sanchez, but the other was earned and they all counted on the scoreboard.
“For some reason, I’m having a hard time staying away from big innings this year,” said Sale, who is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in four September starts. “I can’t do that. I can’t let things escalate.”
The 6-foot-6, 180-pounder struck out nine, raising his AL-leading total to 259. He has at least two more starts left to surpass the Sox record of 269, set by Hall of Famer Ed Walsh in 1908.
Sale also walked three and allowed his lone earned run in the seventh, when rookie Francisco Lindor hit a solo homer. Cleveland tacked on five runs in the eighth off Chicago relievers Daniel Webb and Dan Jennings.
“Saler realizes that expectations are high, so anytime he doesn’t get a no-hitter, people don’t understand it,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s human, like everyone else — and that one inning kind of got away — but I appreciate the innings that he gave us.”
Designated hitter Melky Cabrera accounted for Chicago’s only run with his 11th homer of the year in the fifth. The Sox went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
Indians right-hander Cody Anderson (5-3) allowed five hits and five walks in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out a career-high six, five of them with runners on second or third base.
“We had a lot of guys in scoring position, but we let Anderson off the hook,” Ventura said. “He made some nice pitches, but from our side, you’ve got to find a way to put the bat on the ball. You can’t let those opportunities get away from you without paying for it.”
The loss mathematically eliminated Chicago from the AL Central Division race. The Sox are 69-77 and well on their way to a third consecutive losing season.
In its last trip to Cleveland, Chicago swept a four-game series and outscored the Indians 26-5 from July 23-26.
“No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep your chin up,” Sale said. “The main goal for me and all of us is finishing strong. That’s still the goal.”
Sox: OF Trayce Thompson (hyperextended left elbow) was in the lineup for the first time since Monday, and went 1 for 4.
Indians: INF Zach Walters, a candidate to be called up next week, injured his shoulder sliding headfirst into home plate for Triple-A Columbus on Thursday. He’s been placed on Columbus’ DL.
Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon ranks second among AL rookies with 131 strikeouts and a .538 winning percentage.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco is 1-3 with a 10.03 ERA in four starts against the Sox this season, totaling just 11 2-3 innings.