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Sale strikes out eight over 6 2/3 innings

Tampa Bay saw its eight-game winning streak come to a close Friday night, and is hoping it won't come back to haunt them.

But as much as the Rays needed not to lose, the White Sox needed to win, as they are still hoping to come out on top of the American League Central Division standings, trailing the Tigers by just a game.

The two teams meet again Saturday afternoon after splitting the first two games of a four-game set at U.S. Cellular field.

The White Sox have just who they want taking the mound in Cy Young candidate Chris Sale, who has been dominant at home with an 8-0 mark and 1.45 ERA.

And he's not only been the team's best pitcher. Sale has been among the best hurlers in the American League. As nice as an award would be, it still doesn't satisfy Sale.

"If we get to the playoffs, I will," said Sale when asked if he's accomplished what he set out to do at the beginning of the year. "It will definitely be a lot sweeter if that happens. I'm just honestly trying to make this last start just like any of the other ones. You know me, I'm not trying to make too much of anything right now."

In his only other start against the Rays, a May 28 outing at Tropicana Field, Sale was nearly untouchable, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out a career-best 15.

The Rays, who are three games back of Oakland for the second American League Wild Card, will counter with lefty Matt Moore, who hasn't won since Aug. 19, going 0-4 in six starts during the stretch.

"Attack early, get ahead -- the biggest thing is throwing my fastball early in the count for strikes," Moore said his approach would be. "When I can get there, my other pitches come alive."

Moore has gone four or fewer innings in his last three outings, and last time out, he lasted just 2 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks.

He met with manager Joe Maddon to discuss his recent rough stretch and to address his confidence level.

"I don't really feel like I fell off the horse or anything," Moore said. "So my biggest thing is to just go out there and act like I'm going out there and going after whomever. Go after it."

Rays: Rodney continues magical season
Not only is Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney having the best season by a reliever this year, he's well on his way to doing something that hasn't been done since 1990.

That year, Oakland's Dennis Eckersley secured the lowest ERA by a reliever with at least 50 appearances when he recorded a 0.6136 mark, but Rodney trails just behind at 0.62. With 1 1/3 more scoreless innings, Rodney would be alone at the top.

It's the lowest ERA of Rodney's career by nearly two runs and just shy of four runs fewer than his ERA put up with the Angels last season. Rodney, who became the team's closer when Kyle Farnsworth began the season the disabled list, has a team-record 46 saves on the season, and he credits his success to the Rays giving him a chance.

"It's something I did, I didn't have a plan to do this this year," Rodney said. "I had the opportunity to prove to [Maddon] that I can pitch at this level in this game. And it happened."

White Sox: Ramirez planning for busy offseason
Though he's still hoping the offseason doesn't begin Oct. 4, a day after the season finale, White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez plans to work "a lot harder" in the offseason.

Ramirez is batting .269, just seven points below his career average, and has nine homers, but he's still not happy about his production.

"Even though the numbers are similar to what they have been in the past, it's more so that I know I can play better than what I have," Ramirez said. "I'm more upset with myself because I know I can do better than what I'm doing."

Ramirez went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI in Friday's 3-1 win against the Rays.

Worth noting:
• Sam Fuld started in left field for the Rays on Friday, his first start since Sept. 16 because of a mild right hamstring strain.

• MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported Chicago finalized its deal with international shortstop Johan Cruz, the only player the club signed from the July 2, 2012 class.

• Chicago leads the season series 4-1, outscoring Tampa Bay 18-10.

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