CLEVELAND (AP)—The Chicago White Sox shocked even their manager, Ozzie Guillen, with their first four-game sweep in Cleveland in 42 years.
Jon Garland pitched six effective innings Sunday and became the AL’s first 14-game winner when the White Sox beat the Indians 4-0.
“I never thought we’d sweep,” said Guillen. “I (came in) hoping we’d win the series. Cleveland always plays tough against us. This was big for us.
“The first two games were big. After that, I knew I had my bullets (All-Stars Mark Buehrle and Garland) for the last two.”
Garland (14-4) allowed seven hits and two walks to win for the second time in four starts. He struck out two.
“It’s a division rival,” Garland said. “The least you want to do is split so the standings stay the same.”
Instead, the White Sox opened a 12-game lead over second-place Minnesota and dropped third-place Cleveland 15 games back.
The Indians hit just .120 (3-for-25) with runners in scoring position in the series, including 0-for-8 Sunday. They have lost a season-high five in a row and nine of 10. Cleveland has trailed in 35 of 36 innings since the All-Star break and has not held a lead since the fourth inning in New York on July 10— 41 innings overall.
“You can’t put your head down and cry,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s not the way I operate and that’s not how these players are. We have 2 1/2 months and 70 games left, and we can’t back off.”
The Indians were without leading hitter Travis Hafner, who sustained a cut lip and slight concussion when he was hit by a pitch Saturday. Batting cleanup in place of Hafner (.310, 18 homers, 63 RBIs) was right-fielder Casey Blake, who came in hitting .221 and on an 0-for-15 skid.
Blake went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.
“Contreras set the tone and everybody else followed suit,” Pierzynski said. “This was a big series for us, especially after the way we played against Oakland before the break.”
The White Sox were swept in three games by the Athletics to close the first half.
Cleveland’s best chance came in the fourth when Blake and Ben Broussard singled to put runners on first and third. Garland then struck out Jhonny Peralta and got Ronnie Belliard to hit into a double play.
“I hit the ball hard, but right at somebody,” Belliard said. “Chicago played good, they pitched good, but sometimes they hit the ball on the end of the bat and it fell in.
Scott Podsednik opened the game against Scott Elarton (6-4) with a line double over leaping left-fielder Coco Crisp, took third on a flyout to center by Iguchi and scored on a groundout by Frank Thomas.
Jermaine Dye hit a one-out single in the second and scored on Pierzynski’s 12th homer to make it 3-0.
Iguchi made it 4-0 in the third by hitting an 0-2 pitch into the left-field stands for his sixth homer.
“That’s the one pitch I was most disappointed in throwing,” Elarton said. “Pierzynski put a good swing on what I thought was a good pitch, but the one to Iguchi was just a bad one by me.”
Elarton fell to 6-2 in his last 11 outings. The right-hander gave up four runs and eight hits over seven innings.
Rain delayed play 37 minutes in the top of the second. … In Garland’s four losses, the White Sox have scored a total of six runs. They’ve averaged 6.5 runs in his 14 victories. … Podsednik got his 48th stolen base, making Chicago 10-for-11 in the series. … Chicago OF Aaron Rowand went 2-for-4 and is hitting .476 (10-for-21) over his last five games. … Cleveland has not hit a homer in 51 1-3 innings, though the staff at Jacobs Field inexplicably shot off the fireworks that follow an Indians homer as Blake was at bat in the fourth. He then hit a single, snapping an 0-for-16 streak.