But he was good enough on a day when they learned they could lose Gavin Floyd for at least one start.
"I don't think I wanted to get out of an inning more than that one," Sale said after allowing two hits before inducing Yuniesky Betancourt to ground into an inning-ending double play to complete a 115-pitch effort.
That play typified the win-and-survive mode by the Sox, who revealed earlier that Floyd is suffering from right forearm tendinitis after undergoing an MRI Sunday in Chicago.
Dylan Axelrod will pitch Monday night's opener in Boston in Floyd's spot, followed by Philip Humber.
Sale (11-2) allowed a season-high 10 hits, but manager Robin Ventura had no reservations about keeping him in to start the eighth.
"We could go to somebody else, you don't know what's going to happen in that last inning," Ventura said.
Pierzynski marveled at Sale's ability to throw effectively when he needed to. Sale, meanwhile, said he didn't feel any more pressure with Floyd out.
"You want to pick him up and him to be back as soon as he can," said Sale, who lowered his ERA to 2.11. "But if you start putting too much pressure on yourself, you raise the expectations and try to do too much. Just stay with the same mindset — do whatever I can to help the team win. And leave it all out there."
If Floyd can't pitch Wednesday or is placed on the 15-day disabled list, the Sox could promote left-handers Pedro Hernandez or Charlie Leesman or righty Simon Castro from Triple-A Charlotte.
Floyd made his last appearance on July 7, throwing 100 pitches in 72/3 scoreless innings against the Blue Jays. Ventura said Floyd didn't express his discomfort until after the All-Star break.
"He's very rarely said much about anything," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "When he or anybody else says something, we listen."
The Sox could move up rookie left-hander Jose Quintana to pitch in Floyd's spot, but that seems unlikely as the Sox want to give their starters as much rest as possible.
One National League scout at Sunday's game said the Sox continue to look for starting and relief help outside their organization.
Adam Dunn hit his third home run in as many games, a line drive over the right-field fence for his 28th of the season. Addison Reed earned his 14th save.
Dunn was relieved the Sox won the series as they now lead the American League Central by 3½ games.
"It was a tough series right out of the gate," Dunn said. "But we are fortunate to win the series. Obviously that's the goal."