While the Chicago White Sox might normally like their chances of posting back-to-back wins for the first time in three weeks behind Chris Sale , it remains to be seen how the hard-throwing left-hander will bounce back from a rare off outing.
Sale and Greinke square off as the White Sox and Brewers open a three-game set Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
After compiling a 0.98 ERA and striking out 43 in 36 2-3 innings over a five-start winning streak May 17-June 9, Sale (8-2, 2.46 ERA) allowed career worsts of five runs and four walks over 5 2-3 innings last Friday in a 7-6 loss at Dodger Stadium.
"You feel good with him on the mound and ... the way he's been throwing, but tonight he just didn't get it done," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He walked too many guys ... That just can't happen. We were behind in the count on every guy."
Hoping to have better command of his pitches, Sale has a chance to lead Chicago (36-33) to consecutive victories for the first time since its season-best nine-game winning streak May 23-June 1.
Though the White Sox have since dropped 11 of 17, they've managed to stay in the thick of the AL Central race. Chicago salvaged Wednesday's series finale with the Cubs, winning 7-0 to remain one-half game behind first-place Cleveland.
"We needed that," Gordon Beckham said after going 2 for 4 with his ninth homer and a career best-tying four RBIs. "We've been doing a good job of not getting swept. ... We're playing hard, we're doing the right thing. It's just coming a little harder the last week and a half."
Beckham and his teammates could be in for another big day at the plate versus Greinke (7-2, 3.10). In 21 starts against the White Sox while with Kansas City, Greinke posted a 4.47 ERA and a 6-10 record - his highest loss total versus any club.
The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner has especially struggled in Chicago, going 1-7 with a 7.15 ERA in eight starts.
Pierzynski has enjoyed facing the right-hander, going 19 for 46 (.413) with two homers. Paul Konerko , whose 59 at-bats are the most of any batter versus Greinke, is hitting just .153 with one homer and 17 strikeouts.
Greinke wasn't very sharp in his last outing, yielding four runs and a season-high 11 hits over eight innings of Sunday's 5-4, 15-inning loss at Minnesota. He is 3-2 with a 4.96 ERA in eight starts as the visiting pitcher.
The Brewers (32-37) are coming off their fourth win in six games, defeating Toronto 8-3 on Wednesday. Yovani Gallardo earned his sixth win while Carlos Gomez , Corey Hart , Martin Maldonado and Ryan Braun all homered.
"It's very important for us. It's obviously getting close to the All-Star break, and we (had to) turn things around quickly," Gallardo said. "We were able to do that this past six games, and we've just got to continue it."
Riding Braun's hot bat could help them do just that. The reigning NL MVP, batting .359 with six homers during a 15-game hitting streak, has recorded a .404 average while hitting safely in 25 consecutive interleague games. He is 3 for 13 lifetime against Chicago.
The White Sox have won eight of nine in this series since 2000, including two of three in the most recent meeting in 2009.
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
|May 26, 2012||Cesar Izturis||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|May 26, 2012||Travis Ishikawa||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 25, 2012||Cesar Izturis||Day-to-Day||Strained hamstring|
|Chicago White Sox|
|June 13, 2012||Adam Dunn||Day-to-Day||Sprained ankle|
|June 04, 2012||Kosuke Fukudome||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 30, 2012||Alejandro De Aza||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right knee|
|May 20, 2012||John Danks||15-Day DL||Sore left shoulder|
|May 19, 2012||Brent Morel||Day-to-Day||Bulged disc|
|May 18, 2012||Brent Morel||15-Day DL||Lumbar back strain|
CHICAGO (AP) -- The way Zack Greinke and Chris Sale were locked in, the hitters never had a chance. This one belonged to the starters.
Greinke pitched three-hit ball over nine innings, Rickie Weeks drove in the lone run with a single in the 10th and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago White Sox 1-0 on Friday night.
The Brewers finally pulled out a close win after dropping five of the previous nine by one run, thanks to one dominant pitching performance and one clutch hit.
"I felt better as the game went on," Greinke said. "I was a little off and on early. Got some breaks. Some line drives hit at people and then I kind of settled in a little bit."
The Brewers ultimately rewarded him in the 10th.
Aramis Ramirez led off by lining his second double of the game down the left-field line against Jesse Crain (1-1). Nyjer Morgan ran for him and advanced on a wild pitch before Weeks drove a single past a diving third baseman Orlando Hudson to make it 1-0.
John Axford came on in the 10th and got his 13th save in 17 chances after blowing three of his previous five opportunities. He walked Gordon Beckham leading off, but struck out Adam Dunn before Paul Konerko grounded into a double play to end the game.
That gave Greinke (8-2) the win on a night when Sale pitched eight scoreless innings for the second time in three starts.
"You don't have long innings," Greinke said. "You just come in. You get your five, 10 minutes, just relax a little and you're back out there. Sometimes, you get in more of a rhythm when there are no long innings."
Greinke struck out four and walked one. The only hits he allowed were singles by Alex Rios in the fifth, Beckham in the seventh and A.J. Pierzynski in the eighth, and the White Sox hit into double plays in each of those innings.
Sale was about as dominant, striking out seven and walking one as Chicago lost for the seventh time in nine games.
"I see why his record (8-2) and his ERA (2.24) are where they are," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's really funky along with great stuff."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura was impressed by both starters.
"You're looking at two pitchers that were ... just moving it in and out, back and forth," he said. "I think both of them were doing that all night. It's not just one pitch that they have."
The only serious threat against him was when Weeks doubled with one out in the fifth and advanced on a wild pitch. He got out of it by striking out Cody Ransom and Martin Maldonado .
Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth for Chicago thanks to two neat plays by Hudson at third. He made a leaping catch on Norichika Aoki 's liner leading off and ranged far to his left on Carlos Gomez 's grounder before Ryan Braun struck out.
Both teams were busy before the game.
The Brewers signed veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez to a one-year contract, after he was released by Atlanta.
The White Sox placed pitcher Philip Humber on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right elbow flexor and designated outfielder Kosuke Fukudome for assignment.
"Obviously, having Phil go down, that's a big blow," Sale said. "We love having him in there on the mound and what he brings to our team is great."
NOTES: The Brewers recorded their fourth shutout, while the White Sox failed to score a run for the seventh time. ... Braun extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single to shortstop in the fourth. ... The Brewers also designated LHP Juan Perez and INF Edwin Maysonet for assignment and reinstated SS Cesar Izturis from the 15-day DL. ... C Jonathan Lucroy had a pin removed from his right hand on Thursday and could begin catching bullpen sessions in the next day or two. "He's raring to go," Roenicke said. ... With Humber out, Ventura said Dylan Axelrod will start Saturday against Randy Wolf . ... The White Sox purchased the contract of right-hander Brian Bruney from Triple-A Charlotte.