CLEVELAND (AP) — Jake Peavy needed an easy night to take some stress off his overworked right arm.
The White Sox gave him one.
They staked Peavy to an early eight-run lead and he cruised for seven innings on Thursday night as Chicago rocked Cleveland 8-1 to split the four-game series against the AL Central-leading Indians.
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Adam Dunn hit his 10th homer, a two-run shot in the first inning and the White Sox tacked on six runs in the fourth off Jeanmar Gomez (2-2). That eased the burden on Peavy, who threw 122 pitches in his previous start and pitched nine innings in the two before that.
Peavy (4-1) allowed seven hits, struck out five and had little difficulty in subduing the Indians, who didn’t get a runner past second base until the seventh. He has been overpowering in his last five starts, posting a 1.36 ERA.
“I had great stuff,” Peavy said. “It wasn’t an easy start by any means, but to have a start where you can be aggressive and throw a lot of strikes and not have to really work hard was nice. If you could draw it up like that for all 30-some starts, it would be a perfect world.”
Alexei Ramirez had three hits and Alejandro De Aza drove in two runs for the White Sox, who had only one extra-base hit — Dunn’s 425-foot blast off Gomez, who was tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.
After playing in seven straight games decided by two runs or fewer, the White Sox finally had a somewhat relaxed nine innings.
They were swept in a day-night doubleheader on Monday, but bounced back to take the final two games in the series. Chicago improved to 14-5 in its last 19 games at Progressive Field.
“It was good to come back with these two wins after losing the doubleheader,” Peavy said. “You have to beat the team in first place in your division.”
Peavy was only in trouble once before allowing a run in the seventh.
Travis Hafner led off Cleveland’s second with a single, and one out later, Shin-Soo Choo singled. Michael Brantley followed by hitting a line drive up the middle that Peavy somehow trapped against his stomach before throwing to first to force Choo for an inning-ending double play.
Brantley just shook his head and laughed as he headed back to the dugout.
“I tried to get in front of it,” Peavy said. “I kind of got it right in the chest. I don’t think it hit my glove until it rolled in.”
Peavy got ahead of nearly every Cleveland hitter, preventing the Indians from being too selective.
“He attacked the strike zone,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He went after guys.”
Dunn’s homer was really all Peavy needed.
After the start of the game was delayed for 64 minutes by rain that never arrived, Gomez walked De Aza leading off. One out later, Dunn drove a 1-0 pitch deep into the lower seats in right, the burly designated hitter’s sixth homer in the last 11 games.
Dunn hit just 11 homers last season and didn’t connect for his 10th until July 26.
“I don’t feel bad, but I don’t feel like I’m on fire by any means,” Dunn said.
Dunn would later strike out in his 36th consecutive game, which according research done by the Indians, is the longest streak since pitcher Bob Veale (1967-68).
The White Sox added six runs in the fourth, torturing Gomez by going base to base with hard-hit singles and a pair of walks to open an 8-0 lead.
A.J. Pierzynski, Ramirez and Eduardo Escobar each hit RBI singles before De Aza drove in two runs with a single to center. Gordon Beckham followed with a sinking liner to left that Johnny Damon snared with a diving catch for the second out, but Escobar, starting in place of Brent Morel, alertly tagged and scored to cap the inning.
As Gomez struggled, Indians manager Manny Acta elected not to get anyone up in his overworked bullpen.
Peavy also allowed White Sox manager Robin Ventura to rest his relievers. Before the game, the club announced that new closer Chris Sale would undergo an MRI on his sore left elbow Thursday in Chicago. Sale was recently moved from the starting rotation into the closer’s role because of tenderness in his elbow.
Ventura insisted the move is precautionary at this point, but the team won’t really know until it gets test results on the 23-year-old Sale.
NOTES: The Indians remain uncertain about RHP Roberto Hernandez’s future. Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez remains in the Dominican Republic, where he was arrested in January on identity fraud charges. Acta said Hernandez’s representatives thought he would have rejoined the club by now, but he’s been unable to get a work visa to return to the U.S. … Acta rested 3B Jack Hannahan, who “tweaked” his left groin in Tuesday’s game. Acta expects Hannahan, who is batting .291 with 16 RBIs in 26 games, will be available for Thursday’s series opener in Boston. … Morel was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a sore lower back. … Since the start of the 2003, White Sox pitchers lead the majors with 815 quality starts.