Indians 4, White Sox 3, 11 innings

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CHICAGO (AP)—Forget last season. The Cleveland Indians sure have. They’re ready from the start to mount a challenge to the Chicago White Sox.

“Our goal is to win each series and it’s nice to get this first one,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said after Wednesday’s 4-3, 11-inning victory over the defending World Series champions.

Jason Michaels doubled in the go-ahead run—his fourth hit of the game— and the Indians took two of three in the opening series between the AL Central rivals.

Cleveland went 9-14 last April, falling 7 1/2 games back. And even though the Indians were 39-18 during the seasons’ final two months, they fell short of the postseason after a 1-6 finish.

“I think it’s big to get off on the right foot, especially coming here with all these festivities going on and the crowd was fired up,” Michaels said.

The White Sox did plenty of celebrating the first three games with the unveiling of four championship banners, a ring ceremony and a salute to the fans and presentation of the World Series trophy. What they didn’t do much of was play like they did last season—at least not in the final two games after winning the rain-delayed opener 10-4.

They are under .500 for the first time since Aug. 20, 2004. Don’t blame the festivities for being a distraction.

“It was nice. It was fun and it’s over,” White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “It was great for the fans to have all this stuff going on. That isn’t the reason we lost the game. We lost the game because we didn’t play well.”

Casey Blake singled leading off the 11th, moved up on Grady Sizemore’s sacrifice and scored when Michaels doubled to right-center against loser Neal Cotts.

“I thought it was really cool,” Michaels said of all the championship activities. “I thought they really did a good job. I was fired up and I think the guys on the team were fired up. It was a good atmosphere.”

Guillermo Mota pitched out of jams in the eighth and ninth innings, Danny Graves got the win with a scoreless 10th and Bob Wickman pitched the 11th for the save.

Travis Hafner’s long homer leading off the eighth against rookie lefty Boone Logan tied the game at 3, and the Indians threatened to take the lead but an interference call stopped a rally.

After Ben Broussard singled, Ronnie Belliard dropped down a nice bunt in front of the plate. Pierzynski’s throw to first hit Belliard, the ball got away and Broussard made third, but plate umpire Dan Iassonga called Belliard out for interference on the base path and motioned Broussard back to first as Wedge came out to argue. Broussard was sent back to first, then advanced to second on a passed ball before Aaron Boone ended the inning with a strikeout.

“I just wanted to see what was going on. He (Iassonga) said he was inside the line, I think he probably was, but I just wanted to see his take on it,” Wedge said.

Chicago had runners at the corners in the eighth when Pierzynski doubled and Juan Uribe singled, but Mota fanned Alex Cintron and retired Brian Anderson on a roller. In the bottom of the ninth, Chicago loaded the bases before Pierzynski popped out.

Cleveland starter Cliff Lee, an 18-game winner last season, gave up three runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings. Chicago starter Jose Contreras surrendered two runs and six hits in six innings.

In the first inning, Contreras looked like the pitcher who struggled with his control early last season. He threw 37 pitches in the first, issued two walks, hit a batter and gave up two singles as the Indians took a 2-0 lead on Victor Martinez’s sacrifice fly and Belliard’s bases-loaded hit by pitch.

Contreras had been rushed to a hospital Sunday after an allergic reaction to some seafood he ate and missed opening game ceremonies

Tadahito Iguchi doubled in the fourth and scored on Rob Mackowiak’s bloop single. Chicago went ahead 3-2 in the sixth when Lee hit Pierzynski with a pitch with the bases loaded and Uribe had a sacrifice fly off Matt Miller.

Notes

Cleveland survived a scary collision between C Martinez and 1B Ben Broussard as they went for a popup in the fifth inning. Both players were knocked to the ground and shaken up by stayed in the game. … Jermaine Dye left in the second inning with a strained left calf muscle and was replaced by Mackowiak. Chicago 3B Joe Crede didn’t start because of the flu. … During Wednesday’s ceremony, the White Sox presented the World Series trophy to their fans. Former White Sox Harold Baines, Billy Pierce, Luis Aparicio and Minnie Minoso walked in from center field—between two banners thanking the fans— and took turns carrying the trophy. Once at the mound, they handed it to manager Ozzie Guillen, who held it aloft to the crowd before heading back to the dugout.

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