CHICAGO -- The Cleveland Indians have yet to fully unleash Danny Salazar, but when they do, offenses better beware.
Salazar had a short, but effective outing, and his bullpen did enough to keep the opposition in check, as the Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Friday.
Indians manager Terry Francona knows that Salazar will be something to behold in the future.
"I'm excited, we're all excited," Francona said. "He's a top of the rotation, potentially, type of pitcher. He shows it now, we're just seeing it in smaller sample sizes. It'll be bigger next year."
Salazar was strong, but the Indians are limiting the young right-hander's work load, so he only tossed 78 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. Salazar gave up no runs on four hits, striking out nine and walking two. The 23-year old rookie now has 54 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings pitched.
"There's a lot to like and there's going to be a time when he stays out there," Francona said. "He looks healthy and he competes. We got a pretty good feel for what we want to do with him. He understands that, I don't think he likes it, but he understands it. It just goes with the territory right now."
Salazar was backed by seven Indians relievers, who combined to toss 5 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and only one unearned run. Bryan Shaw (4-3) picked up the victory with two shutout innings, and Chris Perez worked the ninth to pick up his 24th save in 28 opportunities.
With Tampa Bay set to play Friday evening, the victory temporarily drew the Indians within a game of the Rays for the final wild card spot.
"They were great," Salazar said of his bullpen. "Right now we need (to win) every single game we play. If we keep playing like this, we're going to go really far."
White Sox starter Hector Santiago didn't last long either, but for different reasons. Santiago (4-9) was pulled in the fifth after walking Nick Swisher and giving up a single to Jason Kipnis.
Santiago threw 94 pitches in four innings, giving up three runs on six hits and three walks. It was Santiago's third straight start in which he failed to reach the sixth inning.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes Santiago may be a bit worn down after throwing 142 1/3 innings on the season, more than double his previous career high.
"He's probably a little tired, I would imagine that's part of it," Ventura said. "As far as being able to locate, he's just getting into too much trouble. You've seen it probably during the course of the year, but I think it's been increased with the workload and where he's at. He could just be tired."
Jacob Petricka came in to relieve Santiago, and after he got Carlos Santana to strike out, Ryan Raburn drove in Swisher with a line-drive double down the left field line. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a walk and Michael Brantley's sacrifice fly to left scored Kipnis to put the Indians up 3-0.
Raburn was the star in the Indians' 14-3 win on Thursday, going 3-for-3 with a home run and five runs knocked in. Raburn looked like he may have been heading toward a rough day Friday, failing to come through with men on base in his first two at bats, but he delivered the big hit for the Indians when they needed it.
"Just trying to have good at bats, that's all I'm doing," Raburn said. "Just trying to go up there and get good pitches to hit. Just do whatever's necessary when called upon. I've been very fortunate, our team's been awesome at getting on base and I'm just happy to come through."
Drew Stubbs broke a scoreless tie in the fourth when he knocked in Cabrera with a two-out, run-scoring bloop single that fell just in front of center fielder Jordan Danks.
David Purcey kept the White Sox in the game by retiring all eight batters he faced, lowing his ERA to 1.14 on the season.
Paul Konerko knocked in the White Sox only run with a two-out, RBI single in the fifth that scored Marcus Semien, but couldn't come through with the big hit in both the seventh and ninth innings.
The White Sox threatened in the seventh when Danks singled, stole second and went to third on Semien's single. But Cody Allen got Alexei Ramirez to line out to short, lefty Marc Rzepczynski struck out Adam Dunn, and Matt Albers induced a ground ball off the bat of Konerko to end the inning.
Chicago got two men on once again in the ninth, but Konerko flew out to deep centerfield to end the game.
It was the 74th time this season the White Sox have scored three runs or fewer.
"We've had our opportunities," Ventura said. "I think even today and at their place. Last night was one of those where you didn't have a chance from the beginning. For most of them, we've had chances."
NOTES: RHP Justin Masterson, who hasn't pitched since Sept 2, continues to work his way back from a left oblique strain. Masterson threw from 75 feet on Friday, and Francona said Masterson would take Saturday off and throw again on Sunday. "There'll be a natural progression and you can't rush it," Francona said. "We'll just go according to plan." ... Raburn entered the Friday's game with a .400 batting average and .857 OPS against the White Sox in 39 career plate appearances. Francona attributed it to him hitting lefties well and Chicago having a plethora of southpaw starters. ... RHP Dylan Axelrod tossed 90 pitches in five innings of relief in Thursday's 14-3 loss. It was the most pitches Axelrod has thrown since being removed from the rotation in early July. Ventura indicated that Axelrod may be better suited as a starter, but right now, he's needed in his current role. ... RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (11-9, 3.62) takes on RHP Andre Rienzo (2-1, 4.50) in game three of a four-game set on Saturday at 6:10 pm CST.