CLEVELAND (AP) — Pinch-hitter Jason Giambi homered over the center field wall leading off the ninth inning to give the Cleveland Indians their fifth straight win, 3-2 over the Chicago White Sox.
Giambi, batting for struggling Mark Reynolds, belted a 1-1 pitch from Ramon Troncoso (1-3) high over the wall and into the bushes in center. It was the 436th career homer and ninth career walk-off shot for the slugger, who had a bucket of water dumped over his head by teammates after the game.
Chris Perez (3-1) pitched the ninth, allowing a two-out triple to Dayan Viciedo. He got out of the inning when left fielder Michael Brantley made a nice catch for the third out.
The Indians moved within 2 1-2 games of the idle Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
The sinking White Sox have lost four straight and 10 of 13.
Giambi’s dramatic shot — and postgame bath — provided more memorable snapshots for the Indians, who are making a strong push as August approaches. Cleveland has won 10 of 14 and are keeping the pressure on the first-place Tigers as well as injecting themselves into the wild-card discussion.
As he rounded third, Giambi smiled when he saw his teammates awaiting his arrival at the plate. He leaped into their welcome party and nearly had his jersey pulled off in the celebration.
The well-respected Giambi has been instrumental in bringing the Indians together and they are clicking at just the right time.
Perez got the first two outs in the ninth before Viciedo hit a sinking liner that skipped past right fielder Ryan Rabun and rolled all the way to the wall. Center fielder Michael Bourn hustled over to get it and threw quicky to the infield, preventing Viciedo from trying for an inside-the-park homer.
Gordon Beckham followed with a line drive to left that Brantley casually ran down and snared with an overhead catch to keep it tied 2-all. When he got back to the dugout, Brantley was greeted by several of his teammates and a thankful Perez.
The Indians got another strong outing from a starter as Zach McAllister allowed just two runs and five hits in seven innings.
Cleveland’s starters came in with a 1.79 ERA in the past 16 games.
The White Sox fell 23 games below .500 for the first time since 2007.
With the trading deadline approaching Wednesday at 4 p.m., the last-place team may make some deals.
Before the game, they sent reliever Jesse Crain to Tampa Bay for future considerations. Chicago is also believed to be dangling Jake Peavy, who is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game.
“I have all kind of bags packed,” said Peavy, who has been through this before after being dealt from San Diego to Chicago in 2009.
The Indians’ streak of 26 consecutive scoreless innings ended in the sixth.
Blanked by McAllister for the first five innings, the White Sox scored twice with two outs in the sixth on Adam Dunn’s RBI double and Paul Konerko’s run-scoring single.
It was the first run given up by the Indians since the eighth inning on Friday. Cleveland posted consecutive shutouts over the weekend against Texas, and lead the majors with 14 shutouts.
Held to one hit by John Danks over the first five innings, the Indians tied it in the sixth on Asdrubal Cabrera’s RBI groundout.
As has been the case during their recent surge, the Indians grabbed an early lead.
They went ahead in the second on Carlos Santana’s sacrifice fly, the 16th straight game Cleveland has scored first — a new franchise record. The Indians scored first in 15 games in a row in 1906, and Cleveland’s current streak is the majors’ longest since Milwaukee did it 21 consecutive times in 1990.
NOTES: Indians manager Terry Francona received a text from Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia, who was sitting near the dugout phone David Ortiz destroyed with his bat in Baltimore. “None of the words were printable,” said Francona, who remains close with his former player. When Francona managed in Boston he said Ortiz rarely got that mad, but “when he goes …” One time, Francona was trying to calm “Big Papi” down and Ortiz stepped on his foot and broke his toenail. “I wanted to kill him,” Francona said. … White Sox manager Robin Ventura was traded twice during his career, so he appreciates the anxiety his players may be feeling. “Sometimes you hear all these rumors about guys going places and nothing ever happens,” Ventura said. “Every year you’re hearing names fly everywhere and they don’t go anywhere. So until it actually happens that’s when I believe it.”