BALTIMORE— Chris Sale celebrated his return from the disabled list by striking out 12 over five dominant innings, and the Boston Red Sox moved 50 games over .500 by completing a sweep of the lowly Baltimore Orioles with a 4-1 victory on Sunday.
Sale (12-4) was placed on the DL on July 28 with left shoulder inflammation. Judging by his performance, the injury is no longer an issue.
The left-hander allowed just one hit, a clean third-inning single to left field by Renato Nunez, and walked none. Sale struck out the side twice and fanned at least two in his other three innings.
Sale is 7-0 over his last nine starts, a streak he started before making his third consecutive start in the All-Star Game on July 17. He owns a 0.20 ERA over his last seven outings and leads the AL at 1.97 for the year.
Sale also took over the major league lead in strikeouts with 219 — Washington ace Max Scherzer has 216 and starts Sunday night against the Cubs.
Craig Kimbrel, the last of five Boston relievers, worked the ninth for his 35th save.
Steve Pearce homered for the Red Sox, who have won 10 of 11 to improve to 85-35. Boston took all four at Camden Yards this week and is 14-2 against the Orioles, who are 49 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.
Baltimore struck out 18 times in its fifth straight loss. The Orioles have endured at least nine losing streaks of five games or more this season.
Alex Cobb (3-15) took the loss despite allowing only two runs, one earned, over seven innings.
Pearce hit a solo shot to left in the third inning, Brock Holt scored on an error by right fielder Adam Jones in the fourth.
Baltimore loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth before Ryan Brasier entered and struck out Trey Mancini on a 3-2 pitch.
After Mancini delivered a sacrifice fly in the eighth to make it 2-1, Matt Barnes struck out Tim Beckham with the potential tying run on third.
Boston pulled away in the ninth. Jackie Bradley Jr. singled in a run and scored on a double by Mookie Betts.
Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was given the day off after jamming his left pinky finger sliding into third base Saturday night. X-rays were negative. … LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right ankle sprain) had a bullpen session. “It was really good,” he said.
Orioles: OF/DH Mark Trumbo was did not start because of a sore right knee. He entered as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and struck out.
Red Sox: Boston gets a day off Monday before starting a two-game series at Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Red Sox are 8-2 against the NL.
Orioles: After taking Monday off, Baltimore hosts the Mets on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Orioles beat the Mets 2-1 and 1-0 in June.
By DAVID GINSBURG , Associated Press