GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Maybe it was the unusually chilly 54-degree, first-pitch temperature for Monday's contest between the Reds and White Sox at Camelback Ranch that sped the game along.
Then again, maybe it simply was the dominance of White Sox starter Chris Sale and Reds starter Homer Bailey that caused the first six innings to be played in 80 minutes. The Reds eventually claimed a 1-0 victory on Wilson Valdez's RBI bunt single in the top of the ninth inning.
"He's a smart player," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Valdez's decision to bunt. "He did what was necessary to get that run in and stay out of the double play. That's what they were trying to get in that situation. That was heads-up baseball."
Sale had been tough on himself through two Cactus League starts that produced a 9.82 ERA in his conversion from late-inning reliever to the White Sox rotation. He doesn't care that these games don't count against his career statistics, but he wanted to see results.
Those results came on Monday, as Sale struck out six and allowed just two hits over six innings. Aside from those two hits -- both by Zack Cozart -- there really were only two other balls hit hard during his work on the mound. The southpaw fanned Joey Votto and Scott Rolen in his appearance.
"Obviously, it was my best outing of the spring," Sale said. "I found a groove and kept going with it."
Bailey, who figures to hold down the fifth spot for Cincinnati at the season's outset, did nothing to hurt his cause over four innings. He gave up just three hits, striking out one and walking one.
"The biggest difference from the last game was we kept the ball down," Bailey said. "The last time, we were up in the zone and some breaking balls didn't go where we wanted to. If you get the ball up, you'll run into bats. Other than that, our defense made a couple of really good plays today and [catcher Devin Mesoraco] did a really good job behind the plate."
Former White Sox reliever Nick Masset made his first appearance since March 7 and retired the White Sox in order in the fifth. Addison Reed, in the mix for the White Sox closer's spot, pitched a perfect seventh and fanned Votto and Rolen.
Up next for Reds:
Jay Bruce, who his hitting .391 this spring through 10 games, is likely to be back in the lineup Tuesday when the Reds host the Mariners, live on a free reds.com audio webcast, at 4:05 p.m. ET. With Johnny Cueto pitching in a Minor League game, Jeff Francis will make the start. Francis, a non-roster invitee, is on the outside looking in for a rotation spot at this point but has had a good spring with a 2.25 ERA in three games. Sean Marshall and Andrew Brackman are also expected to make appearances out of the bullpen.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.