CLEVELAND (AP) With two weeks left in the regular season, the Cleveland Indians still have a chance to make the playoffs. Just not a good chance.
The Indians (74-74) trail Houston by four games with 14 to play for the AL’s second wild card following Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Josh Tomlin pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings, and Lonnie Chisenhall had a two-run homer and three RBIs.
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While Cleveland (74-74) remained four games behind the Astros (79-71), they also trail the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota, who are both 76-73. The Indians have alternated wins and losses over their past eight games.
”Because of how we played earlier, we have to make up ground,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. ”We’ve played well enough where these games are so meaningful.”
Cleveland completed a 6-4 homestand and opens a three-game series in Minnesota after a day off.
”We better play well, but the best way to know how to do it, is Tuesday night, try to win that game,” Francona said. ”Thinking two weeks ahead doesn’t help. You miss what’s right in front of you.”
Tomlin (6-2) allowed four hits and matched a season high with eight strikeouts. He won a career-high five straight starts before allowing two runs in a complete-game loss to Kansas City on Tuesday.
The right-hander has dealt with major injuries the last three years. He missed most of the 2013 season because of Tommy John surgery. After going 6-9 in 25 games last season, he had shoulder surgery in March.
”It feels good to go out there every fifth day and not have to worry about the arm or anything going haywire,” Tomlin said.
”He’s a different pitcher,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. ”He’s more deceptive now, with more movement. Before, he was mostly velocity. But he was doing a good job of controlling the outside of the plate.”
Zach McAllister relieved after Alexei Ramirez’s two-out double in the sixth and struck out Mike Olt. Cody Allen, the Indians’ fifth pitcher, worked the ninth for his 31st save in 35 chances.
Chisenhall’s homer highlighted a three-run second inning against John Danks (7-13), and he added an RBI single in the sixth. Rookie Francisco Lindor had an RBI single in the second and a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Danks gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings, falling to 5-14 against Cleveland. He is 1-5 in eight starts since beating the New York Yankees on Aug. 1.
Jose Abreu’s two-run single in the seventh gave him 95 RBIs.
Yan Gomes singled with one out in the second and Chisenhall hit a 1-0 pitch to right, his first homer off a left-hander in 52 at-bats this season.
Abraham Almonte, who was picked off first base to end Saturday night’s game, followed with a double and took third on Jason Kipnis’ fly out to deep right. Lindor pulled a 2-2 pitch into left field for the inning’s third run.
Chisenhall began the season at third base, but was batting .209 when he was sent to Triple-A Columbus on June 7. Since his return on July 30, he’s hitting .320 and has played well defensively after being moved to right field.
”I went down for a little breather,” Chisenhall said. ”I started seeing a few balls drop. You want to go up there feeling good about yourself.”
Indians: 3B Giovanny Urshela (sore right shoulder) was out of the lineup for the fourth time in five games.
White Sox: Chicago plays a day-night doubleheader in Detroit on Monday. RHP Jeff Samardzjia, who has one win since July 28, starts the opener. RHP Erik Johnson is scheduled to start the night game.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar will start the opener at Minnesota.