Former Cleveland pitcher shuts down Guards Saturday

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CHICAGO (AP) — Mike Clevinger combined with three relievers on a four-hitter, and the Chicago White Sox topped the Cleveland Guardians 3-1 on Saturday night for their season-high fourth consecutive victory.

Clevinger played for Cleveland from 2016 to 2020.

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Clevinger permitted one run in 4 2/3 innings in his second major league start of the season. The right-hander, who signed a $3 million, one-year contract with Chicago on April 4, struck out five and walked none.

Then the bullpen took over.

Tim Hill (1-0), Jared Shuster and John Brebbia combined for 4 1/3 hitless innings as the last-place White Sox improved to 9-6 since their 3-22 start. Shuster got six outs before Brebbia handled the ninth for his first save since June 8, 2018, for St. Louis at Cincinnati.

“These guys never stopped working. They never stopped fighting,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “They’re really, really close in there. They play together. Now they’re expecting to win … and that’s the key.”

The 33-year-old Clevinger pitched two-plus innings at Tampa Bay on Monday night. But he looked much better this time around.

“Felt more myself. A little better synced up,” he said. “We saw some things (with) the biomechanic report that came back that we were able to fix in between these two starts.”

Cleveland wasted a sharp performance by Triston McKenzie (2-3), who pitched 6 2/3 innings of four-hit ball. The Guardians lost for the fourth time in five games.

“Just being able to kind of go out there and give the team innings has been on the forefront of my mind,” McKenzie said, “and I think I did a good job of that tonight.”

Josh Naylor accounted for Cleveland’s only run with an opposite-field drive to left with two out in the fourth. It was his 11th homer of the season.

Clevinger departed after Gabriel Arias’ single in the fifth, and Hill struck out pinch-hitter David Fry swinging for the final out of the inning.

“We’re grinding a little bit offensively right now, and we’ve got to find a way,” Cleveland manager Stephen Vogt said.

Andrew Benintendi provided an insurance run for the White Sox with a sacrifice fly against Scott Barlow in the eighth.

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“The first month and a half has been tough for all of us, but we’re all getting through it together,” infielder Nicky Lopez said, “and you can kind of see that we’re enjoying it right now and we’re reaping the benefits of it.”

Chicago jumped in front in the second. Paul DeJong reached on a one-out infield single and scored from first on Lopez’s double into the right-field corner. Lopez went to third on an error on right fielder Will Brennan and scampered home on Martín Maldonado’s single to left.

It was Lopez’s first RBI in his 33rd game of the season. Maldonado was batting just .095 (6 for 63) coming into the day.

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