CHICAGO (AP) -- Put simply, the Chicago White Sox needed this.
With their lead in the AL Central shrinking, with a back-and-forth
game tied in the 10th inning and with a fan base collectively
holding its breath, Joe Crede delivered.
Crede's home run leading off the 10th -- his second of the game --
lifted Chicago to a 7-6 victory over the surging Cleveland Indians
on Tuesday night.
Chicago increased its lead in the AL Central to 3½ games,
snapping the Indians' six-game winning streak and sending them to
only their second loss in 15 games. The three-game series ends
Crede turned on a 1-0 pitch from David Riske (3-4), sending it
an estimated 422 feet to left for his 19th homer. It was the fifth
game-ending homer of Crede's career and his first since last
September against Kansas City.
"I've had other walk-off home runs, but they've either been
earlier in the season or we were out of it," Crede said.
Dustin Hermanson (2-4) pitched a scoreless 10th for the win.
The White Sox have been in first place all season, but a lead
that was 15 games on Aug. 1 was down to 2½ before this one. And
until Crede homered, they were staring at the possibility of it
dwindling to a half-game before Cleveland leaves town.
"Two and a half, 1½, we just can't worry about that stuff,"
Cleveland left fielder Coco Crisp said. "Whether we're playing the
White Sox or Kansas City, we just have to win. This was one of the
best games I've ever played in."
Teammate Aaron Boone agreed.
"When we came in here after the game, there were smiles on our
faces," he said.
The White Sox scored three runs in the seventh to take a 6-5
lead, but Cleveland tied it against Bobby Jenks in the ninth.
Boone hit a two-run homer for the Indians, and Travis
Hafner and Casey Blake added solo shots. Crisp had three hits.
Cleveland, which rallied for a 7-5 victory Monday, appeared
poised for its seventh straight win after the top of the seventh.
Blake hit a 2-2 pitch over the center-field fence leading off
the inning for his 22nd homer, chasing White Sox starter Mark
Buehrle, and Hafner added an RBI double off Neal Cotts to make it
5-3. After Victor Martinez was walked intentionally to load the
bases, Cliff Politte relieved, and Ronnie Belliard ended the threat
with a double-play grounder.
Just as the pressure mounted, the struggling White Sox fought
back. A team that had lost eight of 11 did what it has done often
this season -- it pulled out a close win. The White Sox are 56-32 in
games decided by two runs or less.
Bob Howry relieved, and the Indians unraveled. After Paul
Konerko walked, A.J. Pierzynski drove in Everett with a double to
the right-field corner, and the Indians walked Jermaine Dye
intentionally to load the bases.
Aaron Rowand sent a sacrifice fly to right to drive in Konerko
with the tying run. Cleveland first baseman Jose Hernandez cut off
the throw home and threw wildly to third for an error, allowing
Pierzynski to score for a 6-5 White Sox lead.
Jenks relieved in the ninth and blew his second save chance in
two nights. He walked Jhonny Peralta leading off the inning and
allowed Martinez's double to center with one out on a ball that
Rowand misjudged, putting runners at second and third. Belliard's
RBI groundout tied it at 6.
"The toughest road is a line drive right at you, especially
when it's hit off a 98 mph fastball," Rowand said.
Konerko and Pierzynski singled with one out in the bottom of the
ninth, and Cleveland's David Riske hit Rowand in the back with a
pitch to load the bases with two outs. But Juan Uribe flied to
Buehrle allowed four runs and seven hits and tied a season high
by allowing three homers. He left after Blake's homer leading off
the seventh and did not figure in the decision.
Nor did Westbrook, who allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3
"This can do nothing but help our confidence," Crede said.
Belliard was back in the lineup at 2B after missing four
games with an abdominal injury. "I feel like I'm almost 100
percent," he said. "I wanted to take a shot." ... Buehrle
allowed three homers in a win over Kansas City on May 3.