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MILWAUKEE (AP) — The White Sox needed a throwback effort to snap an ugly road skid. Chris Sale provided a vintage performance.
Sale struck out 11 in eight solid innings in his return from suspension to lift the Chicago White Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
"He's been trying to find it and get a groove going," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "This is a little more vintage of what you'd expect out of him."
Chicago ended a seven-game road losing streak despite another modest offensive effort. It didn't matter with Sale on the mound, as the lanky left-hander made every run count before David Robertson converted his sixth save to end it.
Sale (3-1) looked nothing like the pitcher who'd given up 13 runs over his previous two starts against Minnesota and Detroit in returning from a five-game suspension for his role in an April 23 brawl with Kansas City.
The biggest reason was his command. After walking seven in his previous 8 1-3 innings, Sale didn't allow a walk until two outs in the eighth in notching his 19th career double-digit strikeout game in his 91st career start.
"You want to get as far into the game as you can, especially after a couple of really bad ones and leaving my guys out to dry," Sale said. "I think any pitcher, that's for anybody, starter, reliever whatever, we like strikeouts. It's more fun, I guess."
He looked like he was having fun on the mound, too. He flashed a wide grin after his behind-the-back stab of Ryan Braun's grounder in the fourth.
"I was flailing my arm back there and all of sudden I come up with it, 'Hey, there you go!'," Sale said. "That ball caught me. I wish I could sit here and brag about it. Lucky."
Milwaukee's Elian Herrera homered for the third straight day, but Brewers reliever Michael Blazek (3-1) faltered late, loading the bases with one out on two walks and a single before Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice fly in the eighth made it 3-2. Jose Abreu's two-out RBI single in the ninth proved to be the final margin.
"You get in a game against Chris Sale and you have to be perfect," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Chicago improved to a modest 3-12 away from U.S. Cellular Field, still the worst mark in the majors.
"I didn't even know about the road losing streak until the articles came out," catcher Tyler Flowers said. "We need one more tomorrow, then a day off and then we'll keep rolling."
HOMERS FOR HERRERA
Herrera homered for the third consecutive game and the fourth time this season after coming into the season with just one home run in his first 140 career games.
"It's incredible," said Counsell, who plans to keep Herrera in the lineup on Wednesday despite Aramis Ramirez's imminent return at third base. "He's swinging the bat well, and he's doing a good job."
Milwaukee's offense has homered in seven straight games and has 23 home runs in the last 14 games.
White Sox: Ventura settled on a starting rotation Carlos Rodon, John Danks and Jeff Samardzija as the starters for this weekend's series in Oakland after suspensions, injuries and a weekend doubleheader wrecked his bullpen. Coming into Tuesday's game, Chicago relievers had given up 13 earned runs over 14 1-3 innings over the previous three days, making Sale's start all the more important.
Brewers: With a left-hander on the mound and lingering lower back tightness, Ramirez was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game. Ramirez, who has hit left-handed pitching well in his career, came in with just one hit in 13 at-bats against lefties this year.
White Sox: Jose Quintana (1-3) starts the series finale for Chicago. He's been a hard-luck loser as of late, going 0-2 over his last three starts despite just five earned runs over 19 innings.
Brewers: Milwaukee wraps up this 10-game homestand on Wednesday. Jimmy Nelson (1-3) gets the start coming off a career-high 11 strikeouts last Friday against the Cubs.