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Indians 5, White Sox 4: Pitching staff erodes

Cleveland comes back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits with steady stream of single runs

David Maxwell/Getty Images

This was the kind of game where the White Sox really missed Zach Duke. They took a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to Cleveland’s failed gamble (starting Danny Salazar without a rehab stint), but couldn’t nurse the lead through nine innings.

Carlos Rodon had to work hard to hold the Indians to two runs through six, and even though Omar Narvaez provided an RBI single, Chris Beck gave the run back in the seventh, Nate Jones -- who stranded a Beck runner in the seventh with a strikeout -- couldn't get through his whole inning unscathed, and Jacob Turner allowed the fatal blow in the ninth via a leadoff double and a sac fly, with a Dioner Navarro passed ball in between.

In the end, the Indians methodically hacked away, scoring single runs in innings five through nine for one of the more gradual comebacks you’ll see.

Adam Eaton, after hitting a big grand slam on Wednesday, said after that game that the White Sox had a shot:

"Hopefully, we can get going in the right direction," Eaton said. "Time is limited, but we know what we can do in a month. We can win 15, 20 games in a month, month and a half if we really put our minds to it."

But here’s a case where they don’t have the offense to support the lack of arms and vice versa, stunting any kind of run.

After Justin Morneau drove in all three Salazar walks with a double in the first inning, the Sox mustered just five other hits the rest of the night. They didn’t collect their second hit until a Jose Abreu infield single in the sixth inning, and they couldn’t tack on another run until the seventh. Tim Anderson doubled, moved to third on J.B. Shuck’s sac bunt and came home on Omar Narvaez’s single through the left side. Adam Eaton followed with a single, but Tyler Saladino grounded into a double play to keep the Sox at four runs.

Meanwhile, the Indians started chipping away. Carlos Rodon spent the entire game dodging trouble. Mike Napoli lined into a 5-unassisted double play when Rajai Davis started toward home and Todd Frazier beat him back to third. That was the first of four double plays induced by Rodon, who also used them to shorten the second, fourth and fifth innings.

He could’ve used one in the sixth, but he had to go the long way to limit the Indians to one run and preserve a narrow lead. Francisco Lindor drove in Roberto Perez with a one-out single to right, but hit it firmly enough that Jason Kipnis had to stay at third. Rodon came back to strike out Mike Napoli, but he drilled Carlos Santana to load the bases.

Jose Ramirez followed by hitting a grounder to the hole on the left side. Anderson rounded it off and made an off-balance throw to first, which Abreu caught on the other side of the baseline. That maneuver must’ve jarred Ramirez, who decided to slide into the base feet-first. That slowed down Ramirez enough to make it a clear out by Abreu, who maintained contact with the bag.

Alas, the Sox couldn’t cut off Cleveland’s scoring there, and they couldn’t find another run themselves. Jason Coats made it interesting in the ninth against Andrew Miller by hitting a two-out pinch-hit double off the base of the right-field wall, but pinch-hitting Navarro flied out to deep center to keep it tied at 4.

Despite the out, the offensive substitution worked better than the defensive half, as Navarro failed to catch a high Turner fastball that put the winning run 90 feet away, and Tyler Naquin -- who pinch-hit for Perez with a 1-0 count -- just had to poke a fly to center to end it.

Record: 57-63 | Box score | Highlights