If the Cleveland Indians were feeling any lingering effects from a marathon doubleheader sweep on Friday night, they did a good job of hiding them Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Indians (43-38) clinched a victory in a four-game weekend series by beating the Chicago White Sox 4-3 for their third straight win. All three have come by way of comebacks.
"You play when they tell you, and I think both teams were probably tired,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, referring to the nearly eight hours it took to play the doubleheader on Friday. “That’s part of it. You’ve just got to try and grind through it.”
Cleveland succeeded just a little bit more than Chicago in grinding on Saturday.
After twice battling back from deficits to tie the game, the Indians took their first lead in the eighth, 4-3, on a single to center field by Nick Swisher. He drove in Asdrubal Cabrera with one out -- the first earned run that White Sox reliever Jesse Crain had allowed in 30 straight appearances. More important for the Indians, it also gave their bullpen another chance to close out a win against the White Sox (32-46).
Three Cleveland relievers combined to throw four scoreless innings, capped by closer Chris Perez picking up his seventh save with a 1-2-3 ninth just three days after coming off the disabled list because of a shoulder strain.
Reliever Joe Martinez, who arrived to the ballpark early Saturday morning after being recalled from Triple-A Columbus the night before, picked up the win by throwing two scoreless innings.
The Indians have won nine of their last 12 games and continue to put pressure on the Detroit Tigers at the top of the American League Central.
“The guys are on fire right now,” said Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who labored through five innings and left with the White Sox leading 3-1 heading into the sixth. “There’s no way we can lose any games -- that’s the kind of mentality that we have right now. It doesn’t matter how you pitch. You want to do good and keep the score close, but the way the guys are swinging the bat right now -- they never give up.”
Chicago continues to lag far behind the rest of the division in last place. The White Sox dipped to 14 games below .500, lost their fourth straight game and dropped their 12th contest in the past 16.
Dylan Axelrod started for Chicago and took a no-decision for the fifth straight time after going six innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits -- but two of those hits were home runs by Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis.
Making those long balls sting even more was the way Jimenez twice wriggled out of sticky situations that could've blown the game wide open for the White Sox.
“Guys on base and you have a chance to kind of put it out of reach, so to speak, but couldn’t do it,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “(Axelrod) pitched fine. It’s just he gave up a couple homers and they got to (Crain), which has been hard to do for a lot of people. As far as everything else, it was a clean game. We played good defense and (when) you miss those opportunities, they come back to haunt you.”
Jimenez took a no-decision while allowing three earned runs on nine hits in five innings. He struck out eight but walked four, forcing him to pitch out of the two jams.
The first one happened in the second inning. Chicago struck first to take a 1-0 lead when Tyler Flowers doubled home Conor Gillaspie with one out -- but the Sox failed to turn it into a bigger inning. They had runners at second and third following Flowers' drive down the left-field line, but Alejandro De Aza popped weakly to third and Alexei Ramirez struck out swinging to end the inning.
Cabrera led off the Indians' fourth with his sixth homer of the season to tie the game at 1.
The White Sox again had a chance to blow the game open in the bottom of the fifth, but settled for a pair of runs during a two-out rally that ended with the bases loaded. Singles by Gillaspie and Dayan Viciedo each plated runs to put the White Sox up 3-1, but Jimenez struck out Flowers looking on a full count to end the threat and keep the Indians within striking distance.
"I knew that was my last hitter," Jimenez said. "I knew that was (my) last pitch of the game. (Catcher Carlos Santana) asked me to throw a slider in that situation and I was ready for it."
It didn't take long for Cleveland to strike back.
After Michael Bourn walked to lead off the sixth, Kipnis, who is from the Chicago area, launched a two-run homer that tied the game at 3-3. The ball traveled an estimated 405 feet to right field.
NOTES: After receiving six shots for pain relief in his back on Friday, White Sox 1B/DH Paul Konerko didn't start on Saturday afternoon. He had missed four straight games, including both ends of the marathon doubleheader on Friday that wound up lasting nearly eight hours. Konerko took some swings before the game on Saturday. The 37-year-old Konerko is optimistic he won't land on the disabled list, but couldn't rule it out for certain. "I don't see that happening," he said. "The only way I could see it being an issue is if the way I'm feeling right now just doesn't go away or if it doesn't get loosened up at all." ... The White Sox sent down 3B Brent Morel and RHP Brian Omogrosso after Friday's twin bill and called up RHP Simon Castro to work out of the bullpen in his first major-league stint. ... The Indians have agreed to terms with 22 of their 39 draft picks, with the most recent being RHP Cortland Cox, their 32nd-round selection. ... Cleveland sent RHP Matt Langwell back down to Triple-A Columbus after Friday's games and recalled RHP Joe Martinez, a starter who Francona said will be used in long relief. ... The Indians sent RHP Carlos Carrasco back to Triple-A Columbus after making a start on Friday but he will likely get recalled to make another start. Francona said the club will utilize an off day Monday in order to get Carrasco some extra rest for back spasms that flared up Friday.