CLEVELAND – Give the Indians an ‘A’ for effort Monday night, but they still got an ‘L’ in the end.
Cleveland rallied from a three-run deficit to tie the game in the ninth inning, but wound up on the losing end of a 10-6 decision in 11 innings to the White Sox in the series opener at Progressive Field.
Chicago won it with four runs in the 11th off Indians reliever Rafael Perez, the uprising beginning with a solo home run from Brent Lillibridge.
“We made a good comeback against their closer (Bobby Jenks),” said Indians manager Manny Acta. “We just weren’t able to finish the deal. We can’t play catch up like that, but you have to be encouraged by the way they came back.”
It was an offensive-filled affair with the two teams combining for 35 hits (14 from the Indians), while leaving 28 on base. Chicago’s 21 hits was the most against the Indians since the Sox equaled the total in a 17-0 victory July 5, 1987, in Cleveland.
Neither starting pitcher, Cleveland’s Mitch Talbot or Chicago’s Mark Buehrle, figured in the decision, but the Sox’s ace fared much better than the Indians’ right-hander.
Buehrle lasted six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks, while Talbot surrendered five on 10 hits, three walks and a hit batter over five innings.
Talbot appeared to take the Indians out of the game by allowing all of his runs within the first two innings. Every player in Chicago’s lineup except for A.J. Pierzynski had reached base through four innings against Talbot.
“Today was a frustrating day,” Talbot said. “I didn’t feel like they hit the ball hard. They found some holes. They just hit it where the defense wasn’t.”
The slide continued for Talbot, who hasn’t won since June 27, going 0-5 with a 6.23 ERA since. He has been especially bad since leaving the disabled list (mid-back strain) Aug. 14.
“He’s not making pitches and finishing hitters off,” Acta said. “That’s been the issue the last couple outings. I don’t know whether it’s innings catching up to him, but it’s been a struggle, especially the last couple outings.”
The Indians have talked about innings limitations for a number of their starting pitchers, including Talbot. He is at 140 2/3 innings after an elbow injury limited him to just 68 1/3 innings in the minors for Tampa Bay last year, and Acta sounded as though the club was considering shutting him down for the season.
“I don’t think they will,” Talbot said. “I know it was a concern earlier in the year but I think going on the DL cleared that up. They haven’t said anything to me, but with the way I feel, I don’t think they would.”
Down 6-3 and looking as though they were headed to a sure loss, the Indians put the first four hitters aboard against Jenks in the ninth.
Shelley Duncan drove in the first run with a single to score Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland tying it on an infield single to second base from Luis Valbuena that plated the game-tying runs when Lillibridge rushed an errant throw to first on Valbuena’s high chopper.
The celebration was short lived when two innings later Perez popped Cleveland’s balloon.
Perez, who had turned his season around with an extended string of effective outings, retired the first two hitters he faced before Lillibridge went deep on a 1-2 pitch. Perez gave up three more runs, allowing the next four hitters to reach base before being relieved.
“You just have to continue to make pitches,” Acta said. “This is not basketball. There is no clock ticking. (Perez) has been throwing the ball really well for us, but he just crumbled.”
The Indians got a big night from Travis Hafner, who continues to swing a hot bat in the second half. Hafner equaled a career-high with four hits, three of them doubles. He is batting .381 (16-for-42) with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs since leaving the disabled list Aug. 15.
“The whole second half, he’s been swinging the bat really well, but he’s driving the ball with authority now,” Acta said. “He’s been good. He’s been that bat we need in the middle of our lineup.”
Third baseman Jayson Nix was ejected by home plate umpire Bill Welke for arguing a called third strike in the seventh inning. Acta said Nix was still fuming from a called third strike with two men on in the fifth.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.