- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell figured the Brewers would need an extraordinary effort to hang with White Sox hurler Chris Sale.

It wasn’t enough.

Milwaukee saw its modest three-game winning streak snapped as Sale (3-1) struck out 11 in eight solid innings in his return from suspension to lift the Chicago White Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Brewers on Tuesday night.

“You get in a game against Chris Sale and you have to be perfect,” said Counsell, who is now 5-4 since taking over for Ron Roenicke last week.

Milwaukee’s Elian Herrera homered for the third straight day, but Brewers reliever Michael Blazek (3-1) faltered late.

It had the makings of a pitching duel early when Brewers starter Mike Fiers retired the first 11 batters he faced. Fiers struck out seven and allowed two runs on three consecutive hits in the fifth, but his bullpen didn’t help him after leaving with one out in the seventh.

Reliever Will Smith got out of a seventh-inning jam to keep the game tied at 2, but Blazek loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single before Alexei Ramirez’s sacrifice fly in the eighth made it 3-2. Jose Abreu’s two-out RBI single in the ninth proved to be the final margin.

“We were right there in the end,” Fiers said. “Chris Sale got it done. One of those games where you have to tip your cap.”

David Robertson converted his sixth save to end it.

Sale limited Milwaukee’s offense to a pair of big plays - a triple to lead off the game by Jean Segura, who came around to score on Ryan Braun’s groundout and Herrera’s homer that landed in the Brewers bullpen to lead off the fifth that tied the game at 2.

Herrera has four home runs this season after hitting just one in his first 140 career games coming into this season.

“It’s incredible,” said Counsell, who plans to keep Herrera in the lineup on Wednesday despite Aramis Ramirez’s imminent return at third base. “He’s swinging the bat well, and he’s doing a good job.”

Sale looked nothing like the pitcher who’d given up 13 runs over his previous two starts against Minnesota and Detroit in returning from a five-game suspension for his role in an April 23 brawl with Kansas City.

The biggest reason was his command. After walking seven in his previous 8 1-3 innings, Sale didn’t allow a walk until two outs in the eighth in notching his 19th career double-digit strikeout game in his 91st career start.

“It’s hard to believe (Sale) had a five-something ERA coming into this game,” Counsell said. “He was really good. Really good. I’ve never seen him in person. A lot of our guys haven’t and he’s really good.”

SOX ROAD STRUGGLES

Chicago snapped a seven-game road losing streak. Even with the win, the White Sox improved to a modest 3-12 away from U.S. Cellular Field, still the worst mark in the majors.

Not that they’re dwelling on it.

“I didn’t even know about the road losing streak until the articles came out,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “We’ve started that. We need one more tomorrow, then a day off and then we’ll keep rolling.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: Manager Robin Ventura settled on a starting rotation Carlos Rodon, John Danks and Jeff Samardzija as the starters for this weekend’s series in Oakland after suspensions, injuries and a weekend doubleheader wrecked his bullpen. Coming into Tuesday’s game, Chicago relievers had given up 13 earned runs over 14 1-3 innings over the previous three days, making Sale’s start all the more important.

Brewers: With a left-hander on the mound and lingering lower back tightness, Ramirez was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game. Ramirez, who has hit left-handed pitching well in his career, came in with just one hit in 13 at-bats against lefties this year.

UP NEXT

White Sox: Jose Quintana (1-3) starts the series finale for Chicago. He’s been a hard-luck loser as of late, going 0-2 over his last three starts despite just five earned runs over 19 innings.

Brewers: Milwaukee wraps up this 10-game homestand on Wednesday. Jimmy Nelson (1-3) gets the start coming off a career-high 11 strikeouts last Friday against the Cubs.

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