CHICAGO: How close was it? Anyone who didn’t know the score would have guessed the Indians were crushed by the White Sox Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Instead, the Tribe dropped an 8-7 decision in 14 innings, despite being outhit 22-10, losing the extra-base hit battle 11-2 and striking out 17 times.
Chad Durbin, the seventh and last pitcher in the Indians’ bullpen, had already thrown 47 pitches when Gordon Beckham sliced a double to right with one out in the 14th. Brent Morel followed with an infield single, moving Beckham to third and forcing manager Manny Acta to go to his bullpen for a “”starter,’’ David Huff, who threw two innings Sunday in a rained-out game against the Twins.
After Huff threw one pitch, Morel stole second to nullify a double-play possibility, so with the infield play in, Juan Pierre slapped a single to left to score Beckham with the game winner.
The Tribe came back from the dead in the 10th, 11th and 12th, when the Sox mounted threats but couldn’t make them pay off.
With runners at first and second and one out in the 10th, Chris Perez entered to pitch to Paul Konerko, who bounced into the first double play of the game.
In the 11th, Alex Rios led off with Chicago’s fifth triple of the game. But Perez induced Alexei Ramirez to bounce to third, and after an intentional walk to Lillibridge, Tyler Flowers ripped a line drive directly to third, where Jack Hannahan gloved it and doubled up Lillibridge at first.
Morel put a rush into what was left of the crowd with a bloop double one out into the 12th against Durbin, but the next two Sox batters failed to hit the ball out of the infield and the rally died.
Similarly, the Indians loaded the bases with one out in the 13th, but Shin-Soo Choo struck out, and Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out.
All looked lost for the Tribe until the ninth, when closer Sergio Santos walked Ezequiel Carrera with one out, and Michael Brantley followed with a single that put runners on first and third.
Choo slapped a routine ground ball to second, but Beckham fumbled it. Instead of starting a double play that would have ended the game, he was fortunate to force Brantley at second, Carrera scoring the tying run.
The defeat dropped the Indians three games behind the Central-Division leading Tigers and elevated Chicago to within a half game of second.
Starter Ubaldo Jimenez gave up only four singles. It was those five extra-base hits that got him in trouble: two doubles, two triples and Pierre’s second home run of the season (already?) with nobody on in the fourth inning.
Jimenez was done after throwing 105 pitches (59 percent strikes) in 4 2/3 innings. He was charged with five runs (four earned), leaving with two outs, two runs home and a runner on second in the fifth.
In a distorted way, Jimenez gave the Tribe a chance to win. How did his ragged performance keep his team in the game? Because in sixth, Cleveland scored three times to tie the score 5-5, a circumstance that didn’t last long.
This was Jimenez’s third start since being traded from the Rockies, and he has given up nine earned-runs in 172/3 innings. He has allowed 21 hits, 11 for extra bases, including three triples and two home runs. General Manager Chris Antonetti did not give up the franchise’s two best pitching prospects for this.
Maybe it’s a Chicago thing. When he was with the Rockies, Jimenez faced the Cubs five times and compiled a 1-3 record and 5.63 earned-run average. On the other hand, he started one interleague game against the White Sox and pitched well, giving up two runs in seven innings, but he did not get a decision.
Jimenez put at least one runner on base every inning, though he could have escaped giving up a run in the first, when Cabrera muffed a ground ball for an error with one out. Yet Jimenez had a chance to get out of the jam and gave up three singles in a row.
For three innings, it appeared that Sox starter Gavin Floyd was headed for the record book, retiring nine batters in a row, seven on strikes. But Floyd lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up five runs, even though he allowed only five hits, including a bunt single by Carlos Santana that led to a run.
While Floyd was in the game, the Indians made the most of their opportunities, scoring runs on sacrifice flies by Cabrera and Jason Donald plus RBI singles by Travis Hafner and Santana in the sixth, a hit that marked the end of the line for Floyd.
His replacement, Will Ohman walked Kosuke Fukudome and Donald in succession to force in the tying run that was charged to Floyd. But with the bases still loaded, Lonnie Chisenhall flied to deep center field on the first pitch to end the inning.
Hafner hit his 11th home run of the season to lead off the seventh, but the Tribe attack stalled thereafter.
Meanwhile, the bullpen allowed the White Sox to untie the score in ther sixth. Frank Herrmann was charged with two runs, but Joe Smith gave up an RBI single to Konerko to let in one of them.