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Masterson, Indians blank White Sox

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- It had not been a good week for the Cleveland Indians.

They had gotten rained out on Wednesday and Thursday. On Monday and Tuesday, they were clobbered by the Yankees, losing those two games by a combined score of 25-7.

Friday, in the first game of a three-game series against division rival Chicago, the Indians not only needed to play a good game, they needed to win a game.

They did, thanks to Justin Masterson and Nick Swisher.

Masterson pitched a five-hit shutout and Swisher's walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted Cleveland to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox.

Three White Sox pitchers combined on a three-hitter, but they were unable to solve Masterson, who improved his record to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.41.

"He threw an obscene amount of strikes, and was attacking the strike zone," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.

Masterson, who has allowed one run in 22 innings over his three starts this season, threw 113 pitches, 81 of them strikes. Twenty-four of the 27 outs he recorded came on groundouts or strikeouts.

"He was throwing everything for strikes. It was fun to watch," said Francona.

"His ball was moving all over the place," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, of Masterson. "Just looking at the swings guys were taking, and at how they were reacting to his stuff. This was as good as I've seen him."

Cleveland had just one hit going into the bottom of the ninth inning. With one out, Michael Bourn blooped a double down the left-field line, and went to third on a groundout by Asdrubal Cabrera.

After Jason Kipnis was intentionally walked, Swisher lined reliever Jesse Crain's first pitch down the right-field line for a single, scoring Bourn with the game winner.

"It would have been a shame for us not to give Masty the win he deserved," said Swisher. "Crain has always been tough on me, but I got a fastball in and just tried to eek it fair."

It was a dramatic ending to a game in which Cleveland's offense didn't do much.

"Nobody was doing anything," said Swisher. "For us to be able to pull a win off there -- it's all about the wins."

Chicago starter Jose Quintana and reliever Matt Thornton combined to hold the Indians scoreless on one hit through the first eight innings. The three Chicago pitchers retired 25 of the first 27 batters they faced.

Cleveland's only hit in the first eight innings was a two-out double by Michael Brantley in the second inning. The Indians' only other base runner in that span was Swisher, who got hit by a pitch with two outs in the fourth inning.

Masterson, who has now pitched 19 consecutive scoreless innings, struck out seven and walked one. Chicago got the leadoff hitter on base in four of the first eight innings. The best of those scoring opportunities came in the eighth inning, which began with a double to left field by Conor Gillaspie.

Alexi Ramirez, trying to sacrifice bunt, popped out to the catcher, Hector Gimenez grounded out and Masterson struck out Alejandro De Aza to end the inning.

The White Sox have now lost four games in a row.

"The problem is we're not getting the big hit to drive in a run," said first baseman Adam Dunn. "But tonight it was all Masterson's doing. He was very good."

NOTES: Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco was suspended for eight games and fined an undisclosed sum by Major League Baseball for hitting New York's Kevin Youkilis with his first pitch after giving up a home run to Robinson Cano in the fourth inning of the Indians' 14-1 loss to the Yankees Tuesday night. Carrasco was optioned to Class AAA Columbus on Wednesday and is permitted to pitch in the minor leagues but must immediately begin serving the suspension the next time he is recalled by the Indians. ... Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana, who hasn't played since Monday because of a bruised left thumb, could be in the lineup Saturday, according to manager Terry Francona. ... Prior to Friday's game, the White Sox placed second baseman Gordon Beckham on the disabled list with a fractured hamate bone in his left hand. ... Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper will miss the rest of the road trip while he recovers from a case of diverticulitis. Bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen will serve as the pitching coach in Cooper's absence.
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