CHICAGO — It seems hard to say Corey Kluber appears to be tiring when the Indians’ ace right-hander allowed only three runs Wednesday night.
But the American League Cy Young Award candidate was so dominant through 26 starts this season that a 32-pitch inning against the Chicago White Sox felt like a warning sign. Especially when it came on the heels of his first loss in more than a month.
After a rough third inning, Kluber regrouped and lasted 6 1/3. But he took his second consecutive loss as the White Sox prevailed 3-2 in the second game of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Kluber (13-8, 2.52) struck out eight, giving him 213 and moving him into 19th on the Indians’ single-season strikeout list. In his next start he should pass Gaylord Perry’s 216.
But he also passed his career-high in innings pitched, now at 192 2/3. Last season he notched 147 1/3, plus another 12 in Triple-A. In 2012, he registered 63 innings with the Tribe and a total of 188 1/3, including Columbus duty.
Kluber’s nine hits allowed was his most since May 9, when he also gave up nine at Tampa Bay against the Rays. Kluber had not lost two consecutive games since June, when those were sandwiched around a no-decision.
The Indians (67-64) had a three-game winning streak snapped just as they reached their high-water mark of the season at four games over .500 Tuesday. The loss, coupled with Kansas City’s victory over Minnesota, dropped the third-place Indians 6 ½ games behind the Royals in the AL Central Division.
Tribe third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall seemed to give the Indians new life when he tied the game 2-2 in the seventh with his 12th homer and his first since Aug. 4. Chisenhall sent a 3-2 pitch from right-hander Hector Noesi (8-9, 4.75) just over the right field fence. But the White Sox came back to take the lead in the bottom of the inning on Jose Abreu’s RBI single to center.
In that inning, the Indians survived a crew chief review when catcher Roberto Perez tagged out Carlos Sanchez on a fielder’s choice grounder to third. Sanchez was out by 20 feet, but third-base umpire Joe West checked to make sure Perez gave Sanchez a lane to the plate. After a 48-second delay, the out call was confirmed, but Kluber was denied a warm-up pitch by home-plate umpire Rob Drake.
Abreu followed with his single to score Adam Eaton and end Kluber’s night.
In the first two innings, Kluber retired the White Sox on 30 pitches. In the third, he needed two more than that as the Sox got to him for two runs on four hits, including Eaton’s one-out triple to the right field corner.
It might have been worse, but Carlos Santana speared a bullet off the bat of Alexei Ramirez, prompting a brief visit by Perez. Abreu brought Eaton home with a single to center and Adam Dunn followed with an RBI double to center. Avisail Garcia drew a walk, bringing out pitching coach Mickey Callaway, before Conor Gillaspie beat out a single to second. Kluber escaped more damage by getting Tyler Flowers to ground out to third.
Kluber was coming off an Aug. 21 loss at Minnesota, when he gave up three runs in seven innings.