Lackey bests Sale as crosstown series ends in split
By Carrie Muskat and Scott Merkin
CHICAGO -- Aroldis Chapman got the final four outs for his first save with the Cubs, and John Lackey outdueled Chris Sale on Thursday night to end the intracity series in a split decision, with each team able to brag that they defended home turf.
Lackey picked up the win, his first since June 8, as the Cubs edged the White Sox, 3-1, at Wrigley Field to close the Interleague series against their crosstown rivals and spoil Sale's bid for his Major League-leading 15th win.
There were no wardrobe malfunctions regarding Sale. The lefty was scheduled to go Saturday but was scratched after he destroyed the 1976 throwback uniforms to be worn that night. Sale, making his first start since July 18, scattered six hits and walked three over six innings, and he also singled in the sixth.
"I think Lackey was just better tonight," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "After the first inning, we really couldn't get anything going."
Each team scored in the first, and Ben Zobrist hit a tiebreaking RBI single with one out in the third. The Cubs, who boast the best home record in the National League at 32-16, have won six of eight games at Wrigley Field since the All-Star break.
Chapman entered with a runner on third and two outs in the eighth, and struck out Melky Cabrera on six pitches, with four registering 100 mph or higher. The other two were 99 mph.
"It's exciting," Anthony Rizzo said of Chapman's outings. "When he's pitching, you stay to see what he does because he's that type of player. What he does for our bullpen, it's incredible to add a guy like that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bryant vs. Sale: Prior to Thursday, Kris Bryant was 0-for-6 against Sale, striking out all six times, but in the All-Star Game, the Cubs third baseman hit a home run on the first pitch he saw from the lefty. On Thursday, Sale walked Dexter Fowler, who then scored on Bryant's double to center to tie the score at 1. Fowler also scored on Zobrist's single in the third.
"The first couple was knocking the rust off a little bit, but I felt good," Sale said. "[Dioner Navarro] really did a great job of getting me through that. I don't think I had my best of the best out there tonight. He really, he got me through this one and I owe him a lot of credit." More >
He can hit, too: Sale is known more for his prodigious strikeout totals and his low WHIP as opposed to prowess with the bat. But Sale opened the sixth with a single to center on a ground ball up the middle that hit the base. Sale got as far as second, but Lackey retired Jose Abreu on a popup to Anthony Rizzo to end the rally. Sale has two hits in his career, both singles.
"I thought he pitched a good game," Ventura said. "He had a walk and a hit by pitch that ends up costing us but he pitched a good game and I thought he swung it well, too. He took some hacks."
Melky makes contact: Cabrera doubled home Tim Anderson in the first inning for the first run of the game. Cabrera added a single in the sixth, standing as the lone White Sox starter with a multihit effort. Navarro reached base twice with two walks.
Penmanship: The addition of Chapman has changed how Cubs manager Joe Maddon will use his bullpen. Lackey was lifted after throwing 84 pitches over six innings, and most likely could've gone longer. Maddon then turned to Pedro Strop and former closer Hector Rondon before Chapman entered in the eighth with a runner on and two outs. It was Chapman's first four-out save this season.
"He's your guy, and if you let that save moment get away -- if [Rondon] gives up that run and you go into the next inning tied, it's a different moment for [Chapman]," Maddon said. "You want to give him the opportunity to convert the save." More >
"I think everyone is making just a little bit bigger deal of this than it really is. We are here to win games and from this point forward, I think that's our main focus. We are going to come in every day and do our jobs and try to win ballgames, that's at the forefront." -- Sale, on his return from suspension
"We'll keep scratching and clawing and trying to get it going again, but they're a tough team to go against. They've got a lot of power." -- Ventura
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With each team winning two games at home, the White Sox lead the crosstown Interleague series, 57-51.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox:Jose Quintana sits two wins away from reaching double digits for the first time in his career and takes the mound Friday night at Target Field. The left-hander has a 3-0 record with a 2.10 ERA in July and is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA over three starts against the Twins this season.
Cubs:Jon Lester will open the Cubs' Interleague series against the Mariners on Friday at Wrigley Field. Lester is 5-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 career starts against Seattle. In his last four starts this season, Lester is 1-1 with a 10.13 ERA, giving up 18 earned runs over 16 innings. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.