Indians blasted by White Sox 8-1
By TOM WITHERS
CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians packed their bags and hit the road, still leading the AL Central.
Their last night at home wasn't very enjoyable.
Chicago's Jake Peavy, staked to an early eight-run lead, pounded the strike zone and cruised for seven innings on Thursday night as the White Sox rocked the Indians 8-1 to split the four-game series.
After taking two of three against the powerful Texas Rangers, the Indians swept a day-night doubleheader from the White Sox to open the series before losing two in a row.
Still, Indians manager Manny Acta was satisfied with a 4-3 homestand.
"That's not the way we wanted to finish," Acta said. "But I liked the way we played."
Adam Dunn hit his 10th homer, a two-run shot in the first inning and the White Sox tacked on six runs in the fourth off Cleveland's Jeanmar Gomez (2-2), who has been one of the Indians' steadiest starters but couldn't command his pitches in the first four innings.
"Gomez just couldn't throw strikes for four innings," he said.
That wasn't a problem for Peavy (4-1), who allowed seven hits, struck out five and had little difficulty in subduing the Indians, who didn't get a runner past second base until the seventh. Peavy has been overpowering in his past five starts, posting a 1.36 ERA.
"I had great stuff," Peavy said. "It wasn't an easy start by any means, but to have a start where you can be aggressive and throw a lot of strikes and not have to really work hard was nice. If you could draw it up like that for all 30-some starts, it would be a perfect world."
Cleveland's offense has been inconsistent much of the season, and Peavy never let the Indians get untracked.
"He was definitely aggressive in the strike zone," said Johnny Damon, who went 0 for 4 in the leadoff spot. "He was up and down and in and out. He was close with all his pitches."
In eight games with Cleveland, Damon is batting just .167 with two RBIs.
"A lot of it falls on my shoulders," Damon said. "I'm the leadoff guy and I've been pretty awful. It affects the guys coming up after me. I definitely need to get it going."
Alexei Ramirez had three hits and Alejandro De Aza drove in two runs for the White Sox, who had only one extra-base hit - Dunn's 425-foot blast off Gomez, who was tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.
After playing in seven straight games decided by two runs or fewer, the White Sox finally had a somewhat relaxed nine innings.
They were swept in a day-night doubleheader on Monday, but bounced back to take the final two games in the series. Chicago improved to 14-5 in its past 19 games at Progressive Field.
"It was good to come back with these two wins after losing the doubleheader," Peavy said. "You have to beat the team in first place in your division."
Peavy was only in trouble once before allowing a run in the seventh.
Travis Hafner led off Cleveland's second with a single, and one out later, Shin-Soo Choo singled. Michael Brantley followed by hitting a line drive up the middle that Peavy somehow trapped against his stomach before throwing to first to force Choo for an inning-ending double play.
Brantley just shook his head and laughed as he headed back to the dugout.
"I tried to get in front of it," Peavy said. "I kind of got it right in the chest. I don't think it hit my glove until it rolled in."
Peavy got ahead of nearly every Cleveland hitter, preventing the Indians from being too selective.
"He attacked the strike zone," Acta said. "He went after guys."
Dunn's homer was really all Peavy needed.
After the start of the game was delayed 64 minutes by rain that never arrived, Gomez walked De Aza leading off. One out later, Dunn drove a 1-0 pitch deep into the lower seats in right, the burly designated hitter's sixth homer in the past 11 games.
Dunn hit just 11 homers last season and didn't connect for his 10th until July 26.
"I don't feel bad, but I don't feel like I'm on fire by any means," Dunn said.
Dunn would later strike out in his 36th consecutive game, which according research done by the Indians, is the longest streak since pitcher Bob Veale (1967-68).
The White Sox added six runs in the fourth, hurting Gomez by going base to base with hard-hit singles and a pair of walks to open an 8-0 lead.
NOTES: Cleveland is 4-5 vs. Chicago. ... Indians 1B Casey Kotchman batted .353 on the homestand to raise his average to .198. .. The Indians remain uncertain about RHP Roberto Hernandez's future. Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez remains in the Dominican Republic, where he was arrested in January on identity fraud charges. Acta said Hernandez's representatives thought he would have rejoined the club by now, but he's been unable to get a work visa to return to the U.S. ... Acta rested 3B Jack Hannahan, who "tweaked" his left groin in Tuesday's game. Acta expects Hannahan, who is batting .291 with 16 RBIs in 26 games, will be available for Thursday's series opener in Boston.
Updated May 10, 2012