White Sox 3, Indians 2, 13 innings
CLEVELAND (AP)—Now that the Chicago White Sox are nice and relaxed, Ozzie Guillen wants his critics to give it a rest.
The energetic manager didn’t compromise baseball’s integrity with a patchwork lineup against Cleveland on Friday night. Instead, he fielded one that pushed the Indians to the edge of elimination.
“I want to sweep these guys,” Guillen said after Chicago’s 3-2 win in 13 innings. “We might not. But we’re going to try to win.”
The White Sox can’t be accused of coasting or playing favorites.
Resting many of their starters to prepare for the AL playoffs, the White Sox dealt Cleveland’s postseason chances a damaging blow with yet another one-run win over the Indians, who lost for the fourth time in five games following a 17-2 stretch.
To some baseball purists and rabid fans from Brooklyn to Brookline, Guillen was condemned for the lineup he posted for the series opener with the Indians, locked in a three-way playoff fight with Boston and New York.
But not only did the White Sox backups play hard, they won while knocking the Indians back a bit.
Afterward, Guillen took a few swings of his own.
“People were killing me on national TV,” Guillen said. “They said I wasn’t respecting the game, but that’s only because it was Boston and New York. If it had happened to another team, no one would have talked about it.
“Every manager in baseball does what I did. The day after you clinch, you play your bench guys. (Atlanta manager) Bobby Cox does it and he’s a genius. I do it and everybody says I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Cleveland (93-67), which had rallied in the ninth to force extra innings, dropped one game behind AL East co-leaders Boston and New York (94-66) with two games remaining. The Indians also dropped to 22-35 in one-run games, including an 0-8 mark against the White Sox.
“We seem to always lose the close games to them, but we’ve got two left,” Indians starter Kevin Millwood said. “We win them both and we know we’ve got at least a playoff on Monday.”
With one out in the top of the 13th, Willie Harris tripled off the right-field wall. Scott Podsednik dropped a bunt toward first, and Harris foolishly broke late for home plate. Broussard threw home to catcher Victor Martinez, who chased Harris back toward the bag and tagged him for the second out.
Pinch-hitter Paul Konerko, one of many Chicago regulars rested by manager Ozzie Guillen, was walked intentionally and lifted for pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna. Gload, who was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and batting just .135, then lined a two-run double to center that gave the White Sox a 3-1 lead.
“It was the worst 0-for-5 I have ever had,” Gload said. “It turned out to be a good 1-for-6.”
The crushing blow deflated the Jacobs Field sellout crowd of 41,072, which spent more than four hours moaning and groaning at missed chances by the Indians and watching the score from Fenway Park between the Yankees and Red Sox.
Cliff Politte (7-1) pitched a scoreless 12th for the win.
“Obviously, this is a tough one,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We weren’t able to get the big hit. We’ve got two games left and these guys have stepped up all year.”
Down to their final three outs, the Indians came back in the ninth off Damaso Marte.
Travis Hafner led off with a single, reviving the edgy crowd before Martinez ripped a double inside the bag at third that sent pinch-runner Franklin Gutierrez to third. Dustin Hermanson relieved, and Belliard broke his bat on a 0-1 pitch, trickling a tying RBI grounder to shortstop.
With Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Carl Everett and A.J. Pierzynski watching from the dugout along with Guillen one day after they celebrated winning the Central for the first time since 2000, the White Sox befuddled the Indians for eight innings.
Mark Buehrle allowed three hits in 5 2-3 innings, struck out six and walked two, the second a leadoff pass to Coco Crisp opening the sixth. Buehrle struck out Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner but was lifted by Guillen, who shared a laugh with the lefty on the mound before sending him off.
Luis Vizcaino came on and gave up a single to Martinez before striking out Belliard.
Millwood, who finished the regular season with a 2.86 ERA, didn’t get any run support again. The right-hander allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, and tied a season-high with nine strikeouts.
The Indians set a club record with 51 homers in September. … Buehrle had gone at least six innings in 59 of 60 starts. The only time he didn’t was when he was ejected for hitting Baltimore’s B.J. Surhoff in an Aug. 1 start. … Podsednik swiped his 59th base, giving him the AL lead. He led the NL with 70 last season for Milwaukee. … If Millwood, whose ERA (2.8593) is slightly better than Minnesota’s Johan Santana (2.9243) wins the ERA title, he’d be the first AL pitcher to do so with a losing record since Cleveland’s Mel Harder in 1933. Santana is scheduled to start Sunday. … Millwood’s 30th start gave the Indians five pitchers who made at least that many starts for the first time in their 105-year history.