CHICAGO — Mike Trout spared the Angels the indignity of being on the wrong end of a perfect game or no-hitter Sunday night, grounding a single to center field with one out in the top of the seventh inning after Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale retired the first 19 batters.
That was it as far as offensive highlights for the Angels, who were one-hit by Sale in a 3-0 loss in U.S. Cellular Field that ended their win streak at three and dropped them to 14-23 and 10 games behind Texas in the American League West.
"Nobody wants to be no-hit," said Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick. "That's the one positive thing we can take from today."
BOX SCORE: Chicago White Sox 3, Angels 0
Sale, a lanky 6-foot-6, 180-pound left-hander who looks as if he could be blown off the mound by a stiff breeze, blew the Angels away with a 95-mph fastball, 89-mph two-seam fastball, slider and changeup, all delivered out of a funky sidearm motion that is all elbows, knees and deception.
"Sale had video-game stuff tonight," said Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, who threw six shutout innings before giving up three runs in the seventh. "He had electric stuff, four pitches, all nasty. It was a rough matchup for us."
Sale was dominant through six and got the kind of superb defensive play most no-hitters seem to require when shortstop Alexei Ramirez fielded Alberto Callaspo's grounder behind the second-base bag to open the seventh, spun 360 degrees and fired to first for the out.
But Sale fell behind Trout, who smacked a 2-and-0 fastball to center for a single. Trout took second on Albert Pujols' groundout and stole third, but Sale blew a fastball by Mark Trumbo for strike three to end the inning.
Wilson's six shutout innings and strong plays by right fielder Josh Hamilton, who gunned down Casper Wells at the plate in the second, and Trumbo, who made a diving catch of Jeff Keppinger's liner to left with two on in the fourth, gave the Angels a chance.
But the White Sox snapped a scoreless tie in the seventh when Tyler Flowers walked, Tyler Greene singled, both advanced on a wild pitch and Ramirez hit a two-out, two-run single to left. Alex Rios' run-scoring double off reliever Michael Kohn made it 3-0.
The Angels had only one other baserunner, when Chris Iannetta reached on Ramirez's error to open the ninth, but he was wiped out on a double play.
Sale struck out seven in his first career shutout and needed only 98 pitches, 68 of them strikes, to finish off the Angels, who were one-hit for the 28th time in franchise history.
"No way it was going to happen," Sale (4-2) said, when asked about the possibility of throwing a perfect game. "You kind of start thinking about it around the fourth or fifth inning.
"Then you come back to the dugout after the sixth and no one is talking to you and you feel kind of funny. If it was meant to be, it would have happened. It just didn't happen. No big deal, honestly."