CLEVELAND (AP)—The sun was shining brightly, and the wind was roaring directly at home plate. Not ideal conditions. Not against Freddy Garcia.
Garcia, who went 9-0 in day games last season, dominated Cleveland for eight innings and Scott Podsednik drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh on Monday to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 2-1 victory, spoiling the Indians’ home opener at Jacobs Field.
Garcia (1-0) held Cleveland to one run and four hits and the White Sox improved to 3-1 against the Indians this season. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit after the third, retiring 16 of the last 17.
“He had everything working, including the wind blowing in,” White Sox catcher Chris Widger said. “We played to that.”
Garcia made very few mistakes, and on one hanging curveball to Travis Hafner, the right-hander got an unexpected assist. Hafner ripped a shot to right-center that appeared destined for the lower seats only to have it flattened by the wind.
“Hafner just hammered it and it fell 25 feet short,” Widger said. “We were laughing at that one.”
Garcia knew he had gotten away with one.
“It was a fly out, that’s all,” Garcia said, chuckling.
Last season, Garcia became just the seventh pitcher since 1971 to go 9-0 or better in the daylight. He was only 4-11 in night games, but is now unbeaten in day games since losing on Sept. 3, 2003, in Baltimore.
“I have to do my job either way,” he said. “I’ve been unlucky at night and good in day games.”
With the White Sox clinging to their 2-1 lead, Damaso Marte was brought in to start the ninth instead of Shingo Takatsu, who blew a save last week against Cleveland. Marte, though, walked Hafner with one out before retiring Victor Martinez. Manager Ozzie Guillen then went to Takatsu, who struck out Aaron Boone for his third save.
“I can’t take the ball out of the kid’s hands,” Guillen said.
Garcia outdueled Kevin Millwood (0-1), who had a strong home debut for the Indians. Cleveland signed him to a one-year, $7 million free-agent contract this winter, and for five innings, he made a nearly perfect first impression on Indians fans.
Millwood allowed just one hit in the first five innings, but gave up two in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
“I’m not happy with today,” said Millwood, who pitched six scoreless innings in his debut last week but got a no-decision. “But I’m glad I gave us a chance.”
Unable to get anything going against Millwood for five, the White Sox tied it in the sixth on Carl Everett’s RBI single. They took the lead in the seventh with three two-out singles, the final one Podsednik’s RBI hit to center.
Millwood allowed just a third-inning single before the sixth. But leading off, Podsednik popped up a bunt toward Millwood, who misjudged the ball and had it drop behind him for a single.
“I thought it was coming right to me,” Millwood said. “I just locked up.”
Podsednik, the NL’s steals leader last season for Milwaukee, swiped second and scored one out later on Everett’s single. It was the first run allowed by Millwood in 11 1-3 innings this season.
The Indians are close to finalizing a multiyear contract with Hafner, who had 109 RBIs last season. An announcement is expected this week. … Podsednik left after the seventh with a strained right groin. He doesn’t think he’ll miss any time. … Indians OF Juan Gonzalez hasn’t begun playing in games yet at extended spring training in Florida as he recovers from a strained hamstring. Manager Eric Wedge has no idea when Gonzalez, who got hurt in the final week of training camp, might be ready. … White Sox SS Juan Uribe was sick and got the day off. … Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia (strained side) will make a minor league start on Tuesday at Akron (Double-A) and is slated to make his season debut Sunday against Minnesota. … Millwood has now pitched in 31 different ballparks. … Two high school players threw out ceremonial first pitches. The Indians made a $250,000 donation to the strapped Cleveland school system to fund the entire baseball and softball programs. … Chicago’s starters have allowed just 13 earned runs in 48 innings.