Chris Sale pitches 6 innings in 1st start as Chicago White Sox beat Minnesota Twins 6-2



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CHICAGO — The first pitch was a 96 mph fastball for a called strike. The last one was a 98 mph heater that went for a swinging strike three.

Yup, Chris Sale is healthy again.

The lanky left-hander pitched six solid innings in his return from a foot injury, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Sunday.

"He looked great," manager Robin Ventura said. "There is nothing else to say. It was vintage him."

Adam LaRoche homered for the second straight day and had a run-scoring single as the White Sox earned their second straight win after dropping their first four games. Alexei Ramirez also drove in two runs, including an RBI single in Chicago's three-run eighth.

Sale, who broke a bone in his right foot in an accident at home in February, threw 72 of his 98 pitches for strikes in his first start of 2015. He allowed one run and five hits, struck out eight and walked one.

"It can always get better, but definitely satisfied with what we had today," Sale said. "Felt good to get out there, face some major league hitters."

Minnesota dropped to 1-5 under new manager Paul Molitor. Danny Santana had two hits, including an RBI double, and Phil Hughes lasted six innings after getting off to a slow start.

"It's a bad week," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "You have those weeks during the season, but it just so happened to start at the beginning."

The White Sox used five straight hits to produce two runs in the first. LaRoche singled in Melky Cabrera and scored on Ramirez's double to left.

Chicago almost had another run but Jose Abreu was thrown out trying to go from first to third on LaRoche's liner to left.

The Twins got on the board when Santana doubled in Eduardo Nunez in the third, but LaRoche drove Hughes' first pitch of the bottom half into the visiting bullpen in right. LaRoche, who is adjusting to his new role as Chicago's primary designated hitter, also hit a solo shot in Saturday's 5-4 victory.

Gordon Beckham added a two-run homer in the ninth as Chicago set season highs for runs and hits (12).

"I like the way we've bounced back," Beckham said. "Yesterday wasn't a blowout win and we got down early and it kind of showed that we've got some belief in ourselves to come back and get that win. Come out today and keep that momentum going."

Sale (1-0) struck out his final two batters after Hunter reached on an infield single. The ace improved to 7-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 17 games against the Twins.

Hughes (0-2) allowed eight hits, struck out four and walked none. The right-hander also pounded the zone, recording 69 strikes in his 98 pitches.

"We need to do a better job of getting some better starts out of our guys," Hughes said. "It starts with me."

ON THE MOVE

Abreu has been taking grounders at third, and Ventura said the big first baseman could play there in an interleague game this year.

"It's a possibility," Ventura said. "He moves around very well. He's got good hands and he makes the throw fine. He's been over there. He does have that in him."

COMING HOME

After beginning the season with a six-game trip, the Twins play their home opener on Monday against Kansas City.

It will be Molitor's first game in Minnesota since he became the manager of the Twins in November. It also marks a homecoming of sorts for Hunter, who agreed to a $10.5 million, one-year contract with his first major league team in December.

"It will be a great day," Molitor said. "Obviously we're playing one game tomorrow, but it's the first time I'll have the opportunity in this role. My hometown. My home ballpark. It will be an emotional day. It will be a good day."

UP NEXT

RHP Trevor May gets the ball for Minnesota on Monday against Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (0-0, 9.00 ERA). It's the first game of the season for May.

Chicago gets a day off before beginning a two-game set at Cleveland. White Sox LHP Jose Quintana (0-0, 9.00 ERA) faces Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on Tuesday night.


Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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