CHICAGO -- For the Cleveland Indians, Thursday's 14-3 win over the White Sox was an ideal way to start a pivotal road trip.
And for Chicago, it was a nightmarish continuation of a dreadful season
Nick Swisher, Ryan Raburn and Asdrubal Cabrera homered, and the Indians routed the White Sox to keep pace in the American League playoff hunt.
The Indians scored four times in the first inning and seven runs in the fifth to break the game open. They remained 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot as they began a seven-game swing through Chicago and Kansas City.
"We don't look too far in the big picture. We wanted to show up tonight and we did some good things," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We've got to show up in about 10 hours and come back and have a lot of energy and go get them."
The Indians definitely did that Thursday.
Raburn was 3-for-3 with five RBIs before he was replaced by a pinch-runner in the fifth. Every Cleveland starter except Mike Aviles had at least one hit.
Cleveland also continued its dominance of the White Sox, winning its ninth straight over Chicago this season and improving to 12-2 against its AL Central rival.
In the fifth inning alone -- an inning that included a 17-minute rain delay -- the Indians sent 11 batters to the plate and didn't make an out until the 10th batter. Chicago's Charlie Leesman faced seven batters without getting an out and gave up seven runs, three hits and four walks.
"Hitting's contagious," Swisher said. "One guy gets a hit, the next guy gets a hit. It just kind of snowballs into something big."
Things have snowballed out of control long ago for the White Sox, who fell 30 games below .500 for the first time since ending the 1976 season at 64-97. The 11-run loss was also Chicago's largest of the year.
John Danks (4-13) lasted four innings and gave up seven runs (six earned) and nine hits to drop his third straight decision. He allowed two home runs, matching his career-high of 28 allowed in a season.
"Just sucked," Danks said.
"I'll tell you what. If I had a reason I would have fixed it. I just couldn't do what I wanted to do."
Things were so bad that White Sox manager Robin Ventura didn't need more than one question to sum up what happened.
"Not good. Yeah," Ventura said. "Today all the way around wasn't good and it wasn't a good game to sit through, watch, anything."
Corey Kluber (9-5) was the beneficiary of the Indians' offense. He pitched five innings and allowed six hits and two runs, winning his third consecutive decision.
"I thought I was a little sloppy to start off with. I didn't have my best command early on," Kluber said. "But the nice part about that is the offense came out and put up a lot of runs."
For Cleveland, that can be expected against the White Sox.
Thursday wasn't even the most runs that the Indians have scored against the White Sox. On June 28 in the first game of a doubleheader, Cleveland beat Chicago, 19-10.
Kluber also seemed somewhat sympathetic toward Leesman's fifth-inning struggles.
"I think everybody's been through an inning where you feel like it's never going to end," Kluber said. "It's not a fun feeling to be out there."
The Indians had their share of fun Thursday. And they'd like to continue it past the regular season.
"We've put ourselves in a great spot and we want to try to finish this off," Swisher said. "We want to try and get in that playoff regardless of however we do it, whether it's wild card or division. We're going to keep fighting until the last out."
NOTES: Cleveland RHP Justin Masterson played catch from 90 feet. Masterson left his Sept. 2 start against Baltimore with a strained left oblique. Francona said there were "no issues, no problems" and "we'll just continue that progression." Francona said any possible return depends on "how quickly he comes back" healthy. ... White Sox 3B Conor Gillaspie did not start for the second straight day. Gillaspie made three errors on Tuesday and struck out swinging as a pinch-hitter to end Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Detroit. He was used as a defensive replacement at first base and committed an error. ... Raburn started in left field for Cleveland. Raburn only started two games on the Indians' nine-game homestand because of left heel problems. "I think some days are better than others and sometimes he'll do something and he'll feel it," Francona said. "So we kind of keep an eye on him." ... Friday's pitching matchup is Cleveland's Danny Salazar (1-2, 2.92 ERA) against Chicago's Hector Santiago (4-8, 3.44 ERA).