Sale (5-2, 4.52 ERA), who had been out since early June because of a stress reaction in his shoulder, returned last Friday and allowed two runs on one hit — a home run — in 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers. He struck out seven without a walk and retired the first 14 Tigers he faced.
"He's going to keep getting better and getting more innings and he's going to be part of this," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "For us to play in October, we need everybody to contribute. For him to come out here today and be healthy and compete with us, it means a lot to the group."
The left-hander is 0-0 with a 5.06 ERA in three games — one start — versus Washington.
The Nationals will counter with veteran left-hander Patrick Corbin (7-11, 4.85 ERA). Corbin allowed an unearned run on one hit and seven walks in five-plus innings during his last start, a no-decision against the Phillies last Thursday.
"If you walk seven guys, you don't give up as many hits," he said. "That's one way to do it. ... Not ideal. You're not trying to walk those guys. You try to stay on the corners, you try to stay on the edges, I was just a little bit off today."
Corbin is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA in two previous starts against Boston.
The Red Sox rallied to tie the score 2-2 on Wednesday thanks to Pablo Reyes' homer in the eighth inning, but Keibert Ruiz hit a three-run homer in the bottom half and Stone Garrett followed with his second solo shot of the game to give the Nationals a 6-2 win.
"I feel like I'm just not trying to do too much," Ruiz said. "I'm just being more patient, waiting for my pitch. I'm having good results. I just have to keep it going."
Ruiz has hit 10 of his 15 home runs this season in the seventh inning or later.
Garrett, who enjoyed his first career multi-home run game, is 8-for-17 (.471) with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs, three walks and four runs scored over his last five games.
Michael Chavis added a solo homer against his former team.
Washington left-hander MacKenzie Gore dominated Boston for 6 1/3 scoreless innings before leaving his best start in the majors because of a blister on his left middle finger.
Boston had won six of eight, but was held to four hits, two by Reyes. The infielder is hitting .321 this season with 34 hits, 15 RBIs and 16 runs scored in 106 at-bats.
Reliever Garrett Whitlock, in his second appearance since returning from the injured list, pitched a forgettable eighth inning. He allowed four runs on three hits — two of them homers — and hit a batter.
"He wasn't able to locate," Cora said. "It's gonna happen. He's not perfect. So we just got to turn the page. ... It was just a bad outing."
—Field Level Media