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Swisher two-homer game extends Indians' surge

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Nick Swisher spent a lengthy rain delay watching football with his teammates Sunday. When they finally got to playing baseball, he put himself in the record books.

Swisher hit two home runs, one from each side of the plate, and Zach McAllister threw 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-1 on a rain-soaked afternoon.

It was Swisher's 20th career multi-homer game and the 13th time he'd homered from both sides of the plate in one game, tying him with Mark Teixeira for the most such games all time.

"It just makes me smile," Swisher said. "All that individual stuff is cool and all, but I just think the way we're playing right now is the highlight of everything. Seasons like this don't come along very often. We got a chance to make it in the playoff, and that's what we're doing."

The Indians swept their four-game set with Chicago and have won 12 straight overall against the South Siders. With both the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays losing Sunday, the Indians sit just a half-game out of a wild card spot.

However, Swisher said he and his teammates weren't watching their competitors lose. It was all football during the delay.

"We don't watch baseball, not on Sunday," a gleeful Swisher said with a laugh. "But we got two weeks left, we've got ourselves in a good spot. We just gotta continue playing, keep our nose to the grindstone and see what happens. I feel like we gotta pretty good shot."

Matt Carson and Asdrubal Cabrera each added home runs for Cleveland. Cabrera delivered the big blow -- a three-run shot in the sixth -- to help put the game out of reach.

After waiting out a 4-hour, 23-minute rain delay to start the game, McAllister (8-9) allowed six hits while limiting the White Sox to one run. He struck out five and walked one.

Manager Terry Francona said the team was relaxed and having fun watching football during the delay, and that McAllister stayed loose.

"I thought Zach's stuff was possibly as good as we've seen," Francona said. "He had velocity with his fastball, some power to it, but he commanded it, in and out, very well. He wasn't just throwing, he was pitching with good velocity. Then it opened up the plate for his breaking ball."

After looking strong early, White Sox ace Chris Sale struggled with the long ball and failed to last at least six innings for only the fourth time this year. Sale (11-13) gave up six runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking three. Sale moved to sixth place on the White Sox's single-season strikeout list with 214, putting him one behind Gary Peters for most by a southpaw.

Sale's fate was sealed in the sixth when the Indians sent 10 batters to the plate to break the game open.

Swisher led off the inning by sending Sale's first offering into the left field bleachers. Ryan Raburn and Carlos Santana each followed with singles, and after Sale struck out Yan Gomes, Cabrera lined a three-run shot into the White Sox bullpen in left field, putting the Indians up 6-0.

After getting Mike Aviles to ground out, Sale gave up a single to Carson, and Jose Ramirez drew a walk, ending Sale's evening.

Sale refused to use the long delay as an excuse for his struggles.

"If anything, it should have helped me," Sale said. "A little bit more time to prepare, a little bit more time to get ready. It just didn't work out in my favor."

Carson, who got his first start of the season Sunday, went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a stolen base. It was Carson's second career three-hit game.

"He's excited to do whatever he's asked to do," Francona said. "He plays outfield, all three positions really well. He can run, you put him in a game and he's ready to go. He got a couple big hits for us today."

Swisher ended the scoring by leading off the ninth with his second home run of the game, this one from the left side of the plate off Ramon Troncoso. It put an exclamation point on a big weekend for the Indians, who head to Kansas City charging toward a playoff spot.

However, being a half-game out of the playoffs doesn't mean excite Francona.

"It means we're not quite where we need to be," Francona said. "It means every game gets that much more exciting, that much more meaningful. If we win, we're gonna be OK."

NOTES: Due to the extended delay, the White Sox gave fans with tickets to Sunday's game a free ticket to a home game in April 2014, excluding Opening Day and the series against the Boston Red Sox. ... White Sox OF Avisail Garcia was scratched from the starting lineup to be with his pregnant wife. ... Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall got the day off after he went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run Saturday. Chisenhall is hitting .348/.400/.739 with two home runs and three doubles in September. ... The loss pushed the White Sox to a season-worst 33 games below .500 and gave them 15 losses in their last 17 games. ... The White Sox start a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins on Monday, sending RHP Erik Johnson (0-2, 4.66) to the mound to face RHP Liam Hendriks (1-2, 5.25). ... Cleveland LHP Scott Kazmir (8-8, 4.24) faces RHP James Shields (11-9, 3.38) as the Indians start a three-game series with the Royals on Monday.
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