Indians knock White Sox off Central lead
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians have struggled mightily in the second half. Still, they're having a big impact on the race in the AL Central.
The Indians drew 12 walks in a 6-4 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night, knocking Chicago out of the AL Central lead for the first time in two months. Cleveland came into U.S. Cellular Field and won two of three.
"It shows a little character," Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "They still got a lot more to play for than we do. We're obviously not going to be doing anything after Oct. 3, but the fact that we're still competing like we are right now shows signs of some character."
Chicago, which has lost seven of eight, had been in sole possession or tied at the top every day since July 24. But Detroit moved ahead by a game, beating Kansas City 5-4 with a week left in the regular season.
The White Sox have lost 7 of their last 8 and have seven games remaining -- four at home against Tampa Bay and three more at Cleveland next week.
"You're talking about a game lead, two-game, everything is so fragile. You talk about the momentum swings that can happen. This is one of them, the wrong way," Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko said.
"It doesn't mean in two days it doesn't swing the other way ...It was a tough out there tonight. We didn't deserve to win that game. This is the big leagues. You got all play nine innings."
Shin-Soo Choo had a go-ahead RBI grounder in the seventh off Matt Thornton (4-9) and Vinny Rottino hit his first homer for Cleveland in the eighth off Brett Myers.
Lou Marson drew his third walk of the game with one out in the seventh, and after a double by Ezequiel Carrera, Choo hit an RBI grounder to first. The free passes killed the White Sox and helped the Indians, who left 14 on base.
"That's what made us successful the first half of the season offensively," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Still, we rank among the top five teams in walks, which is something we really improved this year, and that's something we can take advantage of and really help us."
Tony Sipp (1-2) pitched one-third of an inning for the win and Chris Perez finished in the ninth for his 38th save in 42 chances. He issued the Indians' sixth walk of the game and after a throwing error by shortstop Brent Lillibridge, he retired Paul on a fly to shallow left to end it.
Rottino homered in the eighth off Myers after he entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement in left field. He had two homers earlier this season while with the Mets.
"We put him in to try to catch a fly ball if they hit a fly ball over there and he comes out and hits a home run," Acta said. "He was a defensive replacement and ended up driving in a huge run there. He really crushed that ball because the wind was tough dead center."
Indians starter Justin Masterson lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs and four walks. He was encouraged by the comeback his team mustered after his early struggles.
"You know something is on the line for them," Masterson said. "I think that fires us up a little bit more."
NOTES: Cleveland SS Asdrubal Cabrera left the game after batting in the top of the first because of a mid-back strain. Lillibridge took over at short. Cabrera felt the injury during batting practice before he aggravated it during his first inning swing, Acta said. ... Indians CF Michael Brantley (sore groin) was out of the lineup for the third consecutive game. After Thursday's day off, Acta said Brantley should be ready to play Friday. .