Indians 2, White Sox 1

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CLEVELAND (AP)—They both wore No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, and then C.C. Sabathia and Grady Sizemore did themselves proud.

Sabathia pitched eight overpowering innings Sunday and Sizemore hit a leadoff double in the first—Cleveland’s only hit—as the Indians finished a bizarre, two-city homestand with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Out of his customary No. 52 jersey on the 60th anniversary of Robinson’s debut, Sabathia hit another significant number: 3-0.

On four previous occasions, the left-hander had opened a season 2-0 only to lose his next start.

“I didn’t know that,” Sabathia said. “It feels good.”

Pitching with a strong wind gusting to nearly 30 mph at his back, Sabathia allowed five hits, struck out 10, walked three and improved to 14-3—2-0 this season—in 22 starts against Chicago.

With the wind howling through Jacobs Field making it feel much colder than the announced gametime temperature of 39 degrees, Sabathia’s game plan was to pound the inside corner.

“It was cold,” Sabathia said. “Guys kind of think twice about swinging when it’s cold and you are coming in there.”

The Indians didn’t fare much better in the bitter conditions against Chicago starter Jose Contreras (1-2) and three relievers, who combined to no-hit Cleveland after Sizemore’s leadoff double.

The last time the Indians won while getting one hit or less was on April 12, 1992, a 2-1 victory over Boston when they were no-hit by Red Sox pitcher Matt Young.

“That’s not something you see every day,” said Sizemore, who like Sabathia wore No. 42 to salute Robinson for breaking baseball’s color barrier. “I don’t recall ever winning a game with just one hit.”

Cleveland took advantage of three Chicago errors and some walks to take two of three against one of its AL Central rivals.

Sabathia was lucky to escape the eighth with a 2-1 lead. The White Sox got runners to first and third with two outs, when Rob Mackowiak hit a shot through the middle that caromed off Sabathia’s hand and bounced directly to third baseman Casey Blake, who picked it cleanly off the grass and threw out Mackowiak.

Sabathia pumped his arm and screamed in delight before heading back to the dugout.

“I was fired up,” Sabathia said. “It was a close game and that was a big moment. That was the game right there.”

The White Sox got a two-out, pinch-hit single by Jim Thome in the ninth, but Cleveland closer Joe Borowski struck out pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski for his fifth save.

“Right now, we’re colder than the weather,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Our bats are cold. We had a couple of chances, but didn’t get the big hit.”

Contreras did a remarkable job of keeping it close, considering the White Sox made three errors behind him and he walked five in the first four innings.

The right-hander allowed only Sizemore’s hit and was able to get big outs when he needed them. However, Contreras ran into trouble in the fourth with a leadoff walk and an error by third baseman Joe Crede.

Contreras then walked No. 9 hitter Kelly Shoppach to load the bases and then put on Sizemore, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.

“We didn’t help Jose at all,” Guillen said. “We made a couple of big errors. It’s a shame when a guy pitches like that and you don’t win.”

Sabathia’s performance and the one-hit win concluded possibly the strangest homestand in Indians history.

Cleveland’s home opener at Jacobs Field was stopped by snow and the club had its entire four-game series against Seattle postponed last weekend by a blizzard and cold weather. The next series was switched to Milwaukee’s Miller Park, where the Indians played the Los Angeles Angels three times under a retractable roof.

So after taking two of three from Chicago, the Indians went 4-2 on a 10-game homestand with three of those games taking place in a National League ballpark 450 miles away.

Weird enough for you?

Sabathia credited manager Eric Wedge for keeping the Indians focused despite the numerous distractions.

“Before we went to Milwaukee he said, `Keep focused and just try to win the series,’ and that’s what we did,” he said. “He didn’t want to hear any complaining or anything like that. We just went to Milwaukee and then came home and won the series this weekend.”

Notes

Following a day off, the Indians will play a three-game set in New York, which was bracing for a nor’easter. “That figures,” DH Travis Hafner said. “The bad weather is following us everywhere we go.” … Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said MLB has not yet rescheduled the missed games against the Mariners, whose only planned visit to Cleveland has come and gone. Shapiro is strongly opposed to making up the games in Seattle. “We don’t plan on playing home games somewhere else,” he said. … Crede was ejected by plate umpire Jerry Meals after striking out with two on in the sixth and flipping his bat.

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