Danks fires complete game to beat Indians
John Danks had a warm feeling on a windy, rainy night and his Chicago White Sox out of the playoff race.
Danks (13-10) pitched his first career complete game for his first win in more than a month as Chicago beat the Cleveland Indians 6-1 on Monday night.
"It's the first time I've thrown a pitch in a ninth inning, so it was fun," Danks said after ending the game with his seventh strikeout for a three-hitter in his first complete game at any level since being drafted in 2003 by Texas. "They had such strict pitch counts (in the minors) with Texas and I haven't been efficient enough to do it in the majors."
Gordon Beckham drove in three runs to help Chicago to its third win in four games following a stretch of seven losses in eight games.
Cleveland came in one-half game ahead of last-place Kansas City in the AL Central after sweeping a three-game series from Baltimore. The Indians, trying to avoid a last-place finish for the first time since going a franchise-worst 57-101 in 1991, are 6-20 in September. A year ago, they went 32-17 down the stretch to finish at .500 - giving hope to fans that the Indians could return to contention after winning the division in 2007.
Shin-Soo Choo hit his 19th homer leading off the seventh to break up Danks' bid for his first career shutout, but the left-hander was determined to try and close it out.
"He came to me and said he wanted to do it and our bullpen is a little worn, so why not?" Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I'm very careful about pitch counts and we had somebody warming up."
Danks threw 115 pitches in bouncing back from an 8-6 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday in which he gave up three homers and seven runs in six innings. He had been 0-2 in five starts since beating the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 27 - but set a career high in wins, one more than he had last year.
The White Sox are 2-0 since blowing a 5-0 lead and losing 12-5 to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. Some players drew Guillen's wrath afterward for watching college football on TV in the clubhouse.
"We got to go out there and compete," Guillen said. "That's the reason I got mad Saturday. You're paid a lot of money to be here and you have to go through the season. I don't want you to go through the motions.
"Danks showed people we're out of it, but we can still give our all. Hopefully this is the first of many complete games to come. You don't see young guys go all the way that much any more."
The White Sox took a 3-0 lead in the second against Aaron Laffey (7-8) without hitting the ball hard. They loaded the bases on three consecutive one-out singles - then scored three times without hitting a ball out of the infield.
Brent Lillibridge topped a two-out roller that third baseman Jhonny Peralta charged but could not field cleanly between the foul line and the mound. It was ruled an RBI single.
Laffey hit DeWayne Wise with a pitch to force in a run and Beckham grounded a ball up the middle that was fielded behind second base by Jamey Carroll. Wise slid in safely before shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera took the flip from Carroll at the bag as another run scored.
Beckham's two-run double off Jensen Lewis made it 5-1 in the ninth. Beckham then scored on a throwing error by center fielder Trevor Crowe, who fielded Paul Konerko's single and threw home wildly. Beckham went to third when catcher Lou Marson retrieved the ball and tossed it past Lewis attempting to cover home.
"It's happened too many times," Indians manager Eric Wedge said of Crowe's offline throw. "He has to be more under control. The play got real ugly after that because he did overthrow the cutoff man. He's going to have to be better than that."
Danks held the Indians hitless until Choo doubled with two outs in the fourth, finally reversing his fortunes against Cleveland. He had been 1-5 with a 5.63 ERA in nine previous starts against the Indians, posting a 10.54 ERA in losing his last three.
Laffey lost his fifth straight start, allowing three runs and eight hits over 7 1-3 innings. Cleveland has totaled 12 runs of support during the five losses. The left-hander is 0-5 in seven starts since beating Minnesota on Aug. 16.
Cleveland signed 15 Latin American teenagers, two from Panama, six from Venezuela and seven from the Dominican Republic. ... Wedge said rookie LHP David Huff will not pitch again this season. Wedge said Huff, whose 11 wins lead the club, had reached an innings limit prescribed for young pitchers. ... Guillen said RHP Gavin Floyd, bothered by a sore hip for a month, probably won't pitch again this season. Floyd is 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA in 30 starts. ... Choo has hit .329 (52 for 158) with six homers in his last 39 games.