- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago White Sox are in such a rut they can’t even win when Chris Sale comes through with a near-perfect start.

Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single off closer David Robertson in the ninth inning, and the Rangers beat Chicago 2-1 on Friday night.

The White Sox dropped their eighth straight - their longest losing streak since a nine-game slide late in 2013 - despite yet another spectacular effort by their ace.

“You think I’m going to say something bad about one of my teammates, you’re dead wrong,” Sale said. “We have a bunch of fighters in here. We have guys that come in here every single day and play as hard as they can, plain and simple. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Sale did all he could to make it happen, retiring the first 17 batters and matching a season-high with 14 strikeouts while pitching two-hit ball over eight innings. He joined Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson by striking out at least 12 in five straight starts, only to come away empty-handed.

“It’s an honor to get my name mentioned with them, but it’s something more for you guys and friends and family. I’m here for one reason and that’s winning ballgames,” Sale said. “All the other stuff is more of a distraction than anything, really.”

Robertson (4-2) came on in the ninth and ran into trouble with one out when he walked Shin-Soo Choo and gave up a single to Elvis Andrus, putting runners on first and second. He threw a wild pitch to Joey Gallo before striking him out, then intentionally walked Prince Fielder to load the bases.

Moreland, batting for Adam Rosales, lined a two-run single to right before Ryan Rua struck out looking.

“You just try to focus on one pitch - got to win the pitch - and look at the bat as if it’s any other at-bat and not just that situation in the ninth,” said Moreland, who is 13 for 45 lifetime as a pinch hitter.

As soon as he made contact, Robertson knew it was a hit.

“I feel awful because of how well Sale pitched tonight,” he said. “I went out there and blew it.”

The late rally made a winner of Colby Lewis (7-3), who gave up one run and nine hits in eight innings. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter while winning his sixth straight start against Chicago.

Shawn Tolleson worked the ninth for his 10th save in as many chances. He walked Geovany Soto with two outs and hit Adam Eaton before retiring Melky Cabrera on a bloop to second baseman Rougned Odor in shallow right.

Chicago’s lone run came on Tyler Flowers’ leadoff homer in the fifth, and it looked like that would be enough the way Sale was pitching.

The left-hander did not walk a batter. He tied Johnson’s major league mark by striking out at least 10 in six straight outings and ran his string of consecutive innings with at least one strikeout to 35, the longest current streak in the majors.

But Robertson blew his fourth save in 17 chances.

NEAT RECOVERY

The Rangers nearly got their first baserunner in the fourth, when 1B Jose Abreu bobbled Andrus’ grounder with one out. In one motion, he picked up the ball and threw behind his back to Sale covering the bag. The pitcher made a barehanded catch, beating the runner by about a step.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: Rua was activated from the 60-day DL after being sidelined since April 10 by a fractured right heel. … LHP Martin Perez (groin, elbow) threw a bullpen session Friday at Triple-A Round Rock. He is expected to resume his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Frisco on Monday.

UP NEXT

RHP Nick Martinez (5-2, 2.76 ERA) looks to shake off his recent slump for the Rangers while White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon (2-1, 3.86) tries to rebound from his first major league loss. Martinez is 1-2 with a 4.63 ERA in his past four starts. Rodon got pounded in an 11-0 loss at Pittsburgh on Monday.

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