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Indians sweep White Sox for sixth win in row

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians did what they needed to do at home, but the job must be completed in Minnesota.

Nick Swisher homered, Michael Brantley had three hits, and six Cleveland pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts as the Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 Wednesday night.

The Indians earned their sixth win in a row and their 11th in the last 13 games, remaining in the second American League wild-card spot.

Cleveland was perfect on the six-game homestand that ended Wednesday night. The Indians swept a four-game series with Houston and then won two games against the White Sox. The Indians finish the regular season with a four-game series against the Twins starting Thursday, and they hope to nail down a trip to the postseason for the first time since 2007.

"This is very exciting to play in games this meaningful. This is as good as it gets," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

"The ball is in our court," Brantley said. "We took care of business at home. Now we need to go on the road and do it."

The Indians earned their 14th consecutive win over the White Sox, and they finished the season with a 17-2 record vs. Chicago.

"They're better than us this year," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "They had our number. They outplayed us. We had leads late, but they seemed to fight and come back. They had a few walk-offs."

Cleveland rookie starter Danny Salazar (2-3) pitched 5 1/3 innings gave up two runs on six hits, striking out eight and walking one. Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod (4-11) allowed five runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

Francona used the blowout to get an inning of work for starter Justin Masterson, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 2 due to a strained oblique. Masterson threw a scoreless ninth inning, giving up one hit and striking out two.

"It worked out well that we were able to get him in there," Francona said. "We went from our ace being hurt to all of a sudden we've got another weapon with him."

Cleveland led 2-1 before Swisher hit his 21st home run of the season in the fifth inning. The two-run shot scored Brantley, who doubled. The Indians also scored in each of the following two innings to pull away.

The White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Avisail Garcia hit a booming 419-foot home run deep into the bleachers in left-center field. He hit the first pitch of the inning from Salazar.

"I was trying to throw it outside but left it over the middle of the plate," Salazar said.

The Indians countered with two runs in the bottom of the second. With one out and Lonnie Chisenhall at second, Drew Stubbs hit a sharp grounder that handcuffed third baseman Marcus Semien. It went as an error on Semien, and as the ball skipped into left field, Chisenhall raced home with Cleveland's first run of the game.

Stubbs went to second on the throw home, and he scored on a single to center by Brantley, giving Cleveland a 2-1 lead.

Following Swisher's homer, the White Sox cut Cleveland's lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning. Alexei Ramirez reached on an infield single and went to third on a single by Garcia. Bryan Shaw relieved Salazar and gave up an RBI single to Dayan Viciedo.

The Indians countered with a run in the bottom of the sixth, which started with a single by Asdrubal Cabrera and a walk by Jason Giambi. A sacrifice bunt by Mike Aviles moved the runners to second and third, and Drew Stubbs' sacrifice fly drove in Cabrera as Cleveland stretched its lead to 5-2.

Cabrera added a two-run, two-out single in the seventh, and now it's off to Target Field for Cleveland.

"They're a real quality team," Axelrod said of the Indians. "They do the little things right. They take extra bases. They play good defense. They have timely hitting. They're hot right now. They might surprise some people if they get in the playoffs."

NOTES: White Sox 1B Paul Konerko, who fouled a ball off his right knee in Tuesday's game, did not play Wednesday. ... Slumping White Sox DH Adam Dunn, who struck out in all four of his at bats Tuesday and is hitting .115 since Aug. 18, sat out Wednesday. ... Indians CF Michael Bourn did not start due to a sore right wrist, the result of a slide into second base Tuesday. He appeared as a pinch runner. ... The victory came in the Indians' last home game of the regular season, giving them a 51-30 record at Progressive Field. It was just the fourth time since 1965 that Cleveland won 50 home games in a season.

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