Sep/25/12 10:53 PM Filed in: Chris Perez
CHICAGO — Chris Perez held on in a shaky ninth to give the Cleveland Indians a satisfying win over the AL Central-leading White Sox.
He gave up a homer to Paul Konerko to open the ninth inning, but Gordon Beckham hit into a game-ending forceout with the potential tying run on second base, giving Cleveland a 4-3 win on Tuesday.
“We had a rough time and we’re just thinking about winning games,” manager Manny Acta said. “The last thing in our mind is to hurt somebody or knock somebody off. It’s just nice to win after what we’ve gone through the last two months.”
Chicago’s loss gave Detroit an opening to tie for the division lead later Tuesday night against Kansas City.
Russ Canzler had three hits and homered for the second straight game and Cory Kluber (2-4) shut down the White Sox for seven innings.
Down 4-0, Chicago closed when A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo hit consecutive fifth-inning home runs off Kluber and then pulled within a run when Paul Konerko homered off Chris Perez leading off the ninth.
In the rocky ninth, Perez walked a pair of batters with two outs, and Beckham grounded to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who threw to second baseman Jason Kipnis for the force. Perez earned his career-high 37th save in 41 chances.
Chicago (82-72) has held sole possession of the division lead since Sept. 3.
Kluber gave up four hits in a career-high seven innings, retiring nine of his last 10 batters. Vinnie Pestano and Perez completed the six-hitter.
Kluber ran into trouble in the fifth inning. Pierzynski extended his career-high with a solo homer leading off the fifth, his 27th of the year. Dayan Viciedo followed with his 22nd homer to cut Cleveland’s lead to 4-2.
“I made a couple bad pitches and they took advantage of them,” Kluber said. “For the most part, I hadn’t left too many balls over the middle. That’s what I kept telling myself, ‘Keep executing your pitches.’ ”
Beckham reached on a one-out walk after the home runs, but Kluber struck out Alejandro De Aza and Kevin Youkilis to retire the side.
“He grew a little as a pitcher today,” Acta said. “That was a well-pitched ballgame, a crucial situation for those guys. It’s a meaningful game and after starting a little shaky with his command in the first inning, he was really good.
“He had a good slider and his pitch count was unbelievable, very efficient. He gave up those two homers. He just settled down and continued to pound the strike zone and gave us seven solid innings of baseball.”
Pestano redeemed himself for blowing a two-run lead in Monday’s 5-4 loss with a scoreless eighth inning. He got De Aza to ground into his first double play of the season before he struck out Adam Dunn to end the inning. Dunn stunned the Indians with a late three-run homer off Pestano on Monday.