The Chicago White Sox are now clinging to what once seemed like an insurmountable lead in the AL Central.
The Cleveland Indians will look to inch closer to the top spot when the teams continue their three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Indians beat the White Sox 7-5 on Monday to move within 2 1/2 games of Chicago. The White Sox led the Indians by 15 games after a four-game sweep from July 14-17, and held a 14-game lead in early August.
“We all know it’s there,” White Sox reliever Bobby Jenks said of the shrinking lead.
Aaron Boone homered and added a go-ahead, two-run single in the eighth inning for Cleveland, which has won six straight and 13 of 14. The White Sox, who got a homer from Carl Everett, have lost eight of their last 11.
Travis Hafner, playing against Chicago for the first time since he was hit in the mouth by a pitch from Mark Buehrle on July 16, also homered for the Indians, who maintained their 1 1/2 -game lead over the New York Yankees in the wild-card race. The Yankees beat Baltimore 3-2 on Monday.
Right-hander Jake Westbrook will try to keep the Indians’ winning streak going when he takes the ball on Tuesday. Westbrook, who is 9-2 in his last 11 starts, allowed three runs and two hits over seven innings in Wednesday’s 6-4 win over Oakland. The victory was his career-high 15th and moved him above .500 for the first time this season.
“I’m pretty proud of that,” Westbrook said. “To have a 2-9 record and come back and be 15-14. You can’t ever hang your head.”
Westbrook, who is 0-3 with a 4.95 ERA in three starts against Chicago this season, will be facing Buehrle for the third time. Buehrle got the win in the White Sox’s 7-5 victory over Westbrook and the Indians on July 16.
The veteran left-hander also beat them 1-0 to open the season on April 4.
Buehrle is 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 12 starts since the All-Star break.