Chris Sale had already thrown 49 pitches to get through the first two innings for the Chicago White Sox, and was lucky to have only given up two runs.
The left-hander settled down after that, making it through seven innings, and the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.
"The one inning, just seemed like there were people all over the place," manager Robin Ventura said. "For him to come out of it only giving up two (runs) to that lineup, he kind of gutted through it."
A baserunning blunder by the Rangers in the second also helped.
Conor Gillaspie homered leading off the seventh to break a 2-2 tie and Alejandro De Axa added a two-run homer later in the frame to chase rookie right-handed starter Nick Tepesch (2-2).
AL West-leading Texas managed only two runs in the second despite a homer, three singles and a walk. Sale (3-2) then faced only one batter over the minimum 15 the next five innings, benefiting in one from a double play he started.
"You've just got to focus when stuff starts going wrong. That's something I've really had to work on, keeping my composure and not getting in my own head, being my own worst enemy," Sale said. "The game's not over in the second inning."
The Rangers were within 2-1 on Jeff Baker's one-out homer in the second, his third this season and second in two nights. They then loaded the bases.
Mitch Moreland walked before consecutive singles by Geovany Soto and Craig Gentry. Ian Kinsler then hit a ball off the 14-foot wall in left field, but only got a single with only one run in to tie the game at 2. Soto, the catcher, was retreating to second base when the ball ricocheted off wall was almost passed by Gentry before finally scooting over to third. Elvis Andrus then went from a 3-0 count to striking out before Lance Berkman's inning-ending fielder's choice grounder.
"I read that ball bad. I thought it was going to top-spin and come down quicker. I should have scored," Soto said
"It ended up jamming up the bases," manager Ron Washington said. "He should have been halfway, there's no doubt about it."
Addison Reed worked the ninth for his ninth save in as many chances this season, and 15th in a row going back to last season.
After retiring the first two batters he faced, Reed hit pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch -- on the right elbow protected by a huge pad he wears when batting.
Pierzynski, who played the past eight seasons in Chicago but hasn't started in the series because of soreness and bruising on his right side, was clearly unhappy about being hit. He flipped his bat away, said a few words and glared at the mound toward his former teammate while going toward first base -- and even more after he got there.
"I'm sure he was just trying to pitch me in and it got away," Pierzynski said diplomatically afterward.
Reed acknowledged he was trying to throw inside, but insisted that he didn't hear anything Pierzynski was saying.
"Listen, we ain't trying to put anybody on, with this lineup, you're not trying to send any message," Ventura said. "You don't want anybody on base because in about 30 seconds, they got the tying run to the plate."
Ian Kinsler then singled before Elvis Andrus struck out swinging to end the game.
Sale struck out seven and walked two, needing only 61 pitches to get through the last five innings.
Tepesch allowed five runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked two, ending a span of 85 batters faced over 20 1-3 innings since his previous walk, long before the two homers.
"It was a bad decision by me. I just stayed with Tepesch one batter too long," Washington said.
After Berkman's two-out single in the fifth, Adrian Beltre struck out when he wasn't even in the batter's box. Beltre stepped back after requesting time and had his back to the plate when Sale threw the pitch called a strike by home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who didn't grant timeout.
Nelson Cruz drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, but Sale fielded Baker's comebacker to start a double play.
The White Sox had leadoff doubles in each of the first two innings, and turned both into runs.
De Aza doubled into the right-field corner to start the game. After almost being picked off second base, De Aza scored on a single by Alex Rios, who was picked off first for the inning-ending out.
Paul Konerko, who was at the plate when Rios was caught off base, started the second with a double and scored on a double-play grounder by Flowers for a 2-0 lead.
Notes: Sale is 8-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 22 career games (nine starts) vs. AL West teams. ... Third baseman Beltre had a nifty play in the fifth when De Aza tried to bunt for a hit. Beltre barehanded the ball and was falling away from the field when he threw off one foot and got De Aza out at first. ... The Rangers, who have lost three of their last four games, have to win the rubber game Thursday to avoid their first series loss of the season. They are 5-0-3, the only team in the majors without a series loss this season.