DETROIT — It was hard to tell who was happier when Joshua Phegley's sixth-inning grand slam cleared the fence — Phegley himself, or the pitcher who would benefit from those four runs.
Phegley's drive gave Chris Sale some long-awaited offensive support, and Chicago went on to beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 on Thursday in a game that included a bench-clearing altercation shortly after the White Sox took the lead.
Sale was 0-6 in his previous seven starts despite an ERA of 3.10 over that span. With one swing, Phegley helped the left-hander end his unfortunate winless stretch.
"That was awesome," Sale said. "Being in that situation and watching that ball go over the fence, that was very satisfying to say the least. What a game. We didn't put our heads down, didn't quit."
Chicago trailed 3-1 when Phegley cleared the bases with a homer off Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez (7-6). Luke Putkonen came on and got one out before throwing a pitch behind Alexei Ramirez, who started toward the mound before being restrained.
Benches and bullpens emptied, but the situation didn't escalate into any sort of fight. Putkonen was ejected, and Detroit manager Jim Leyland argued with umpires at length and was also tossed from the game.
"I wasn't trying to hit anybody," Putkonen said. "Just threw a fastball inside, and it got away from me."
Ramirez felt otherwise.
"Obviously, that wasn't a pitch that was intended to go in the zone," he said through a translator.
Sale (6-8) allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings. Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his 23rd save in 27 chances.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera hit his 30th homer of the year, a solo shot in the fifth that gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Prince Fielder was up next, and Sale threw a pitch high and inside to the Detroit slugger.
Sale said he didn't mean to come close to hitting Fielder.
"Just trying to rare back and throw it as hard as I can. I've said it before — there's a time and a place for that, and that wasn't the time or the place," Sale said. "I'm not even trying to send a message. I wasn't even trying to back him off the plate, honestly. I've got a lot of respect for Prince, the Detroit Tigers and the game of baseball."
The White Sox rallied off Sanchez to take the lead, and then Putkonen's pitch nearly hit Ramirez. Leyland looked fired up during the brouhaha that followed, and he twice came back out to argue with umpires.
Leyland did not speak to reporters after the game. Plate umpire Chad Fairchild explained the decision to eject Putkonen.
"He threw behind him and I deemed it intentional," Fairchild said.
Fairchild did not view Sale's pitch to Fielder the same way.
"There was no reaction from Fielder. He said nothing. There was no reaction from anyone else," Fairchild said. "The only reaction I saw was from Sale, who made a motion like, 'Damn, it got away.'"