CHICAGO (AP)—You won’t find Carlos Quentin’s name on an All-Star ballot, but he’s right where he belongs in the middle of a first-place lineup.
The White Sox weren’t positive their new outfielder would even make the roster out of spring training because of a bum shoulder, yet the Arizona castoff is turning his surprise start into a starring role.
Quentin hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning and Chicago beat the Cleveland Indians 3-1 Thursday night for its eighth straight victory.
“That’s the reason he’s batting third,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Quentin had two RBIs, giving him 40 this season, and Jermaine Dye added a run-scoring single in the eighth to finish off a three-game sweep of the punchless Indians, who have scored only 13 runs during their six-game losing streak.
“It’s fun today,” Guillen said. “But I take it one day at a time. You can’t get too high, you can’t get low. We’ve got a good thing going. When you have a run like this you can’t wait to get back to the ballpark.”
The Indians, 4 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Chicago, return home after a winless road trip and in a profound hitting slump. They had just two hits: Grady Sizemore’s RBI double in the third and Ben Francisco’s bunt single in the sixth.
“You can’t give into it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said of the team’s slugging woes. “I know the results aren’t there. I’m not happy about it. They’re not happy about it. But you’ve got to keep fighting.”
White Sox starter Mark Buehrle didn’t get a decision, but pitched one of his best games of the season, allowing one run and two hits with four walks in seven innings. Buehrle had been struggling, but has given up just two runs in his last 13 2-3 innings.
“Any starting pitcher wants to win,” Buehrle said. “But I’ve always said I can go 0-0 and if they win all my starts we’ll be in the right place at the end of the year.”
Indians starter Aaron Laffey (2-3) was pulled for Masa Kobayashi, who struck out Orlando Cabrera and got A.J. Pierzynski to fly out to deep center. Anderson tagged up on the fly ball and scored from second on Quentin’s single to left. Dye followed with an RBI single to chase Kobayashi.
“It’s kind of tough not to tag with (first base coach) Harold (Baines) in your ear yelling ‘tag’ as loud as he can,” Anderson said. “When you hear Harold yell that loud, you tend to listen.”
Quentin is hitting .344 (10-for-29) with 11 RBIs in eight games in the third spot. He is batting .417 with 31 RBIs with runners in scoring position and was leading the AL in homers and tied for second in RBIs going into the game.
“In those situations, I have had a tendency to get amped up,” Quentin said of his game-winning at-bat. “But fortunately enough this year, I’ve kind of backed off and just said, use the barrel, get a single and do anything you can to get the job done.”
Laffey gave up six hits in seven innings, striking out six to match his career high.
Quentin drove in Cabrera with a grounder in the first against Laffey, who had not allowed an earned run in 21 innings over his previous three starts. Laffey settled down and pitched out of some jams until leaving in the eighth.
“He threw the ball great all night,” Wedge said. “He pitched a heck of a ballgame.”
Sizemore tied it in the third with an RBI double.
“Offensively, this stuff is contagious,” Indians third baseman Casey Blake said. “It goes both ways. It seems like there’s a lot of negative energy around.”
Indians catcher Victor Martinez left in the fourth with a left index finger injury. He cut his finger and his cuticle broke open, making him unable to grip the bat. Wedge said he should play Friday against Texas. … The White Sox honored former catcher Carlton Fisk in a pregame ceremony. Fisk was recently named an ambassador for the team. … Indians closer Joe Borowski will be activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday, Wedge said. … Laffey struck out six in his previous start as well. … Chicago’s winning streak is its longest since winning nine straight June 15-24, 2006.