KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chris Sale knew he had to pitch his best Sunday with James Shields starting for the Kansas City Royals.
"Indubitably, yes," Sale said. "You know what you're getting with a starter like James. You have to bear down and do it."
Sale gave up four singles in eight scoreless innings as the Chicago White Sox defeated the Royals 5-1 in a pitching duel between top starters.
Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers each drove in a pair of runs as the White Sox won the series finale after dropping the first two games.
Sale (2-0) struck out six and walked one. In his previous four starts against the Royals, the White Sox had backed him with one run, enough to beat James Shields 1-0 in the 2012 opener.
"There was an energy to Chris coming off the mound," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Big pitchers do that when you face up against a guy like Shields. He knows we've lost three in a row and he's going up against Shields and he wanted to go out and shut them down."
Shields (0-1) took the loss in this one, too, giving up a run on five hits, striking out six, walking none and hitting two batters in seven innings.
"What we saw out there today was two No. 1 starters that were at the top of their game," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Both of them had their A-game on the mound. That's as good of stuff as I've seen James Shields have. He had everything working, his fastball at 94-95, a great cutter, a great change, a great curveball.
"Sale was right there with him. He has everything going. Both starters just pitched a great game, both of them."
Ramirez's drove in the game's first run in the seventh when Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar knocked down his grounder but had no play for Conor Gillaspie at home.
Sale allowed a runner past second only in the third inning, when Lorenzo Cain and Omar Infante singled and Ramirez committed a throwing error. Sale wiggled out of trouble by retiring Danny Valencia on a pop up. Cain had two of the hits off Sale.
The White Sox scored four runs in the ninth off Royals left-handed relievers Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno. The inning included a Flowers' two-run single and an RBI double by Ramirez.