Indians lose 5-1 to White Sox on Wednesday at Jacobs Field.
Wednesday afternoon was one of those days during the course of a long baseball season where the other guy was simply better.
Chicago pitcher Mark Buehrle pitched like a three-time All-Star and veteran first baseman Paul Konerko finished off a key at-bat with a two-run home run as the White Sox shut down the Indians, 5-1, at Jacobs Field.
“Buehrle’s a smart pitcher, and he was ‘on’ today,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He kept us off-track all day long. He had good stuff and a good game plan, and he stuck with it.”
Buehrle (7-5) hadn’t won in eight starts against the Indians since July 2005, but he allowed only one run over 6 1/3 innings Wednesday. Cleveland managed 10 hits off the left-hander but was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
The White Sox grabbed an early 4-0 lead, but the Indians appeared primed for yet another comeback win in the seventh.
A leadoff double by Franklin Gutierrez was followed by Grady Sizemore’s RBI single and Casey Blake’s hit, drawing the Indians within 4-1 and bringing the tying run to the plate.
Buehrle had thrown 109 pitches at that point, so left-hander Matt Thornton took the mound to face Victor Martinez, who sent a line-drive toward center field.
The ball ticked Thornton’s glove just enough to slow it down and redirect it toward shortstop Alex Cintron. He stepped on second base, then threw to first and completed the inning-ending double play.
“That ball was going up the middle,” Wedge lamented. “It my mind it was, anyway.”
Thornton and knuckleballer Charlie Haeger shut out Cleveland over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Jake Westbrook (1-5) wasn’t able to overcome a tough fourth inning and is winless in five starts since coming off the disabled list.
The White Sox were ahead 1-0 when Jim Thome led off the inning with a hit to center. Konerko and Westbrook then settled into a battle that lasted 11 pitches before Konerko belted his 20th homer of the season, into the bleachers in left-center.
“You have to tip your hat to the guy,” Indians pitching coach Carl Willis said of Konerko. “He fouled off some really good pitches. You go after him with your best pitch, and he was able to get it.”
Westbrook was not available for interviews after the game. Team spokesman Bart Swain said the pitcher was handling some “personal issues.”
Willis said Westbrook is healthy but still working to shake off the rust from his 48-day stay on the DL.
“I think he’s making improvements,” Willis said. “He’s a contact pitcher. He puts balls in play. At times, those balls will find holes. That’s what’s happening now.”
What’s happening to the Indians now is they’re struggling. Cleveland has lost three of its past four series and seven of its past 11 games.
“Their record is not indicative of their ability,” Wedge said of the White Sox. “They’re a good team. There was some good, hard baseball played this series. That’s what it’s going to be like from here on out.”
Canton (Ohio) Repository
Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or email@example.com.