White Sox 7, Indians 6, 10 innings

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CHICAGO (AP)—Put simply, the Chicago White Sox needed this. With their lead in the AL Central shrinking, with a back-and-forth game tied in the 10th inning and with a fan base collectively holding its breath, Joe Crede delivered.

Crede’s home run leading off the 10th—his second of the game—lifted Chicago to a 7-6 victory over the surging Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.

Chicago increased its lead in the AL Central to 3 1/2 games, snapping the Indians’ six-game winning streak and sending them to only their second loss in 15 games. The three-game series ends Wednesday night.

Crede turned on a 1-0 pitch from David Riske (3-4), sending it an estimated 422 feet to left for his 19th homer. It was the fifth game-ending homer of Crede’s career and his first since last September against Kansas City.

“I’ve had other walk-off home runs, but they’ve either been earlier in the season or we were out of it,” Crede said.

Dustin Hermanson (2-4) pitched a scoreless 10th for the win.

The White Sox have been in first place all season, but a lead that was 15 games on Aug. 1 was down to 2 1/2 before this one. And until Crede homered, they were staring at the possibility of it dwindling to a half-game before Cleveland leaves town.

“Two and a half, 1 1/2 , we just can’t worry about that stuff,” Cleveland left fielder Coco Crisp said. “Whether we’re playing the White Sox or Kansas City, we just have to win. This was one of the best games I’ve ever played in.”

Teammate Aaron Boone agreed.

“When we came in here after the game, there were smiles on our faces,” he said.

The White Sox scored three runs in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead, but Cleveland tied it against Bobby Jenks in the ninth.

Aaron Boone hit a two-run homer for the Indians, and Travis Hafner and Casey Blake added solo shots. Crisp had three hits.

Cleveland, which rallied for a 7-5 victory Monday, appeared poised for its seventh straight win after the top of the seventh.

Blake hit a 2-2 pitch over the center-field fence leading off the inning for his 22nd homer, chasing White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, and Hafner added an RBI double off Neal Cotts to make it 5-3. After Victor Martinez was walked intentionally to load the bases, Cliff Politte relieved, and Ronnie Belliard ended the threat with a double-play grounder.

Just as the pressure mounted, the struggling White Sox fought back. A team that had lost eight of 11 did what it has done often this season—it pulled out a close win. The White Sox are 56-32 in games decided by two runs or less.

Carl Everett’s double off the right-field wall chased Indians starter Jake Westbrook with one out in the seventh.

Bob Howry relieved, and the Indians unraveled. After Paul Konerko walked, A.J. Pierzynski drove in Everett with a double to the right-field corner, and the Indians walked Jermaine Dye intentionally to load the bases.

Aaron Rowand sent a sacrifice fly to right to drive in Konerko with the tying run. Cleveland first baseman Jose Hernandez cut off the throw home and threw wildly to third for an error, allowing Pierzynski to score for a 6-5 White Sox lead.

Jenks relieved in the ninth and blew his second save chance in two nights. He walked Jhonny Peralta leading off the inning and allowed Martinez’s double to center with one out on a ball that Rowand misjudged, putting runners at second and third. Belliard’s RBI groundout tied it at 6.

“The toughest road is a line drive right at you, especially when it’s hit off a 98 mph fastball,” Rowand said.

Konerko and Pierzynski singled with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and Cleveland’s David Riske hit Rowand in the back with a pitch to load the bases with two outs. But Juan Uribe flied to right.

Buehrle allowed four runs and seven hits and tied a season high by allowing three homers. He left after Blake’s homer leading off the seventh and did not figure in the decision.

Nor did Westbrook, who allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.

“This can do nothing but help our confidence,” Crede said.

Notes

Belliard was back in the lineup at 2B after missing four games with an abdominal injury. “I feel like I’m almost 100 percent,” he said. “I wanted to take a shot.” … Buehrle allowed three homers in a win over Kansas City on May 3.

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