ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale knew he had to pitch well Friday in his club's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. Having gone to high school in nearby Lakeland, Fla., Sale had at least 100 friends, family and supporters in the crowd Friday evening.
He did not disappoint. Sale pitched a complete-game two hitter and got a timely ninth-inning two-out RBI single by Melky Cabrera to lift the White Sox to a 1-0 victory over the Rays.
"He always pitches well here," said White Sox Manager Robin Ventura. "He gets something out of it. He's got a lot of family from around here. He's always seems to pitch well here and today was no different. He seemed to be on his game."
Sale improved to 3-0 in his first complete game of the season and his second career complete game shutout. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter on Friday.
"I wanted to do well for them," Sale said. "I don't want to get a hard time. It's nice the support I get from the people coming up from Lakeland, Fort Myers and Tampa areas.
"I think I threw the ball well tonight but I got lucky a few times," he continued. "They made some great defensive plays behind me and then heads up base running. I notice that and I appreciate that as well."
Great base running by veteran Jimmy Rollins set up Cabrera's game-winning hit.
Rollins started the inning with a single off of Alex Colome (1-1) that landed just in front of the glove of Tampa Bay left fielder Desmond Jennings' glove. The Rays unsuccessfully challenged the ruling.
Following a strikeout by Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier hit a towering shot to right center. Right fielder Corey Dickerson made the catch but Rollins tagged up and went to second. Cabrera then lined a single to right field to drive in Rollins.
That made a winner out of Sale (3-0), who at one point sat down 16 straight Rays' batters and also retired the final seven. He still needed a leaping catch by Cabrera at the wall with one out in the ninth to secure the victory.
"Some nights you just tip your cap," said Rays Manager Kevin Cash. "Their guy was outstanding. We knew we had a battle on our hands. Chris Sale, he's done it for quite some time and he had everything going."
The loss ruined a strong outing by Tampa Bay starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. He went seven innings, allowing four hits, striking out six and walking one. After allowing a single to Cabrera in the fourth, Odorizzi retired the final 11 Chicago batters he faced in his longest outing of the season.
"I just got into the flow of the game," Odorizzi said. "Once the other guy puts up zeroes and you keep matching him, you just kind of relax a little bit and it becomes habit. You see him and you match him and keep going back and forth. He threw an incredible game today and we were just on the short end of it."
Both starting pitchers seem to get stronger as the game went on.
Sale allowed only a single to Desmond Jennings in the second inning through the first six innings and needed only five pitches to get through the fourth inning.
Meanwhile, Odorizzi matched Sale with zeroes allowed, but his defense helped work him out of some jams. In the second inning with runners on first and second and one out, Odorizzi got Alex Avila to hit into a 3-6-1 double play.
In the fourth, with runners on first and second with one out, Odorizzi got Brett Lawrie to hit into a fielder's choice, and second baseman Logan Forsythe made a running over-the-shoulder catch before running into teammate Kevin Kiermaier to keep the game scoreless. Both players left the game following the collision.
"It was a tremendous play, it saved a run," Cash said. "Anytime you have a player laying on the ground, there's some concern. It looked like it was more of a glancing blow. They weren't going right head-on but when I got out there and (Kevin Kiermaier) was fairly quiet, then it becomes a little scary. But that's why the trainers got out there in quick fashion, checked out Logan and KK. It seemed they both were communicating fine."
Both players said after the game they were likely day-to-day. Forsythe has a bruised left hip while Kiermaier (head bruise) went through the concussion protocol but said he was fine.
NOTES: Rays RHP Erasmo Ramirez will make his first start of the season on Saturday. He was 11-6 last year for Tampa Bay. He pitched two innings in relief on Wednesday. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb and RHP Chase Whitley, both rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, threw off a mound for the second time. ... The Rays celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Friday, the annual league celebration commemorating the 69th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947. Both the Rays and the White Sox wore Robinson's No. 42. ... Chicago's bullpen entered Friday's game having thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings in the last four games. ... Chicago 1B Jose Abreu's streak of reaching base safely ended at nine. He was 0-4 Friday. ... A fan was stuck by a foul ball in the seventh inning by Tampa Bay's Steven Souza Jr. and was carted off on a stretcher. The delay was unofficially 16 minutes. "She was beat up pretty good," Souza Jr. said after going into the stands to check on the fan. "It looked like it caught her right in the eye, which wasn't a good sight. It's just so unfortunate."