Indians drop rubber match as offense, Westbrook fizzle
CLEVELAND — Jake Westbrook’s luck didn’t change Wednesday afternoon, but it appears the Chicago White Sox’s fortunes have.
That added up to a bunch of bad news for the Indians, who enjoyed a rare disappointing day at Jacobs Field in a 5-1 loss to Chicago that gave the sagging Sox the series.
The White Sox were supposed to be easy pickings for the Indians, entering the three-game series riding a losing skid and appearing to be on their last leg in the Central Division race. Instead, they produced a momentous moment by winning just their third series since May 23 — the other two coming against last-place Kansas City and Tampa Bay.
The Indians, meanwhile, dropped just their third three-game series of the season at home (first to an American League team), losing for the first time in the third game of a set in 11 occasions.
They now trail the Tigers by two games in the AL Central.
Westbrook was not the man to win the rubber match, allowing four runs on seven hits through six innings, as his inefficiency since leaving the disabled list continued. In five starts off the injured list, Westbrook is winless, posting a 4.50 ERA. His lone win of the season came April 27 against the Orioles.
“He’s still working to find it a little bit,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “His stuff was real good. They just got to him a little bit.”
Westbrook, who left to tend to a personal matter after the game and did not speak to reporters, allowed a run in the opening inning before the Sox took command in the fourth.
Westbrook allowed hits to the first four batters of the inning, with Paul Konerko landing the biggest blow on a two-run homer to left that put Chicago in front 3-0. It was an 11-pitch at-bat for Konerko, who fouled off a number of pitches before connecting on a 3-2 offering.
“He’s a control pitcher,” pitching coach Carl Willis said of Westbrook. “He’s going to put the ball in play. At times, those balls are going to find holes, and that’s what he’s going through now.
“One thing we can all look back on is that he’s gone through stretches like this before. He’s battled his way out and ground balls started going at people. There’s no reason to doubt that that won’t happen again.”
Cleveland pitching was good tonic for a Chicago offense which entered the series last in the league in runs per game, but produced 21 in three against the Indians.
Sox ace Mark Buehrle didn’t need the support, allowing just a run through 6 1/3 innings to beat Cleveland for the first time since July 16, 2005. The Indians generated opportunities, producing 10 hits off the left-hander, but failed to make most of them matter.
“We just weren’t able to get anything going offensively,” Wedge said. “That was the story of the game. Buehrle kept us off track all day long.”
Buehrle allowed five hits through the first three innings but the Indians didn’t get to him until the seventh on an RBI single from Grady Sizemore that made it 4-1. Cleveland had the chance for more, with runners on first and second and one out, but reliever Matt Thornton got Victor Martinez to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Martinez’s grounder up the middle appeared to be headed for center field, but Thornton deflected the ball off the mound and directly to shortstop Alex Cintron, who started the double play.
“I think it had a pretty good chance to get through,” said Martinez, who also hit into a double play in the third after Sizemore and Blake produced leadoff hits.
Blake and Sizemore were one of five Indians to produce multihit games — Ryan Garko, Franklin Gutierrez and Josh Barfield were the others. Garko extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. He is 6-for-7 in his career off Buehrle.
As has been the case for the majority of the season, the Indians showed life late, putting two aboard with two outs against knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, but Blake flew to left to end the game.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or email@example.com.
WHO: Cleveland at Texas
WHERE: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
PITCHERS: Sabathia (12-4, 3.78 ERA) vs. Loe (5-7, 5.49)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM