Tribe put away slumping White Sox, who remain half-game behind Twins

CHICAGO -- This is not how the Chicago White Sox envisioned the final week of what had been such a successful season.

They've lost five straight, played ugly baseball along the way, fallen out of first and then failed to take advantage of two straight opportunities to re-claim the top spot in the AL Central.

"I don't know how to describe it -- lucky?" manager Ozzie Guillen said after Saturday's 12-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Lucky from the standpoint that somehow, despite the collapse, the White Sox are still alive entering the final Sunday of the regular season.

The Indians got seven strong innings from Zach Jackson and a three-run double from Asdrubal Cabrera off struggling Javier Vazquez to keep the White Sox a half-game behind the Twins in the AL Central.

The Twins, who lost at home to the Royals for a second straight day to give the White Sox a chance to go back into first, can win the division title Sunday. To do it, Minnesota has to beat the Royals while the White Sox lose again to the Indians.

If the margin stays at a half-game after Sunday, the White Sox will play Detroit on Monday in a makeup game at U.S. Cellular Field. Should the White Sox and Twins end up tied, they would meet in a one-game tiebreaker Tuesday -- also in Chicago.

"I think the best thing is just to say after 160 games we still control our own destiny if we win -- as hard as that is to say because we don't look like a winning team right now," said first baseman Paul Konerko, who homered twice.

"We got to try block that out and start as fresh as we can tomorrow."

The White Sox got a break when Indians ace Cliff Lee, a 22-game winner, was scratched from his final start Sunday because of a stiff neck. He'll be replaced by Bryan Bullington.

"We still have a chance to win this thing. We have a chance," Guillen said. "It's unbelievable, doing that and still fighting up until the last day of the season."

When the Royals' 4-2 victory at Minnesota was posted on the scoreboard during the second inning, the crowd at U.S. Cellular Field reacted with a loud ovation.

But that was about all it had to cheer until Chicago rallied from a 7-1 deficit and closed to 8-6 by scoring four times in the eighth.

The Indians put the game away with four in the ninth off Chicago's beleaguered bullpen. Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez had RBI singles, and Franklin Gutierrez added a two-run single to snap an 0-for-15 skid as a pinch hitter this year.

Pitching on three days' rest, Vazquez (12-16) was hit hard for a third consecutive start and failed to make it out of the fifth.

Before Vazquez's previous start, when he was roughed up by the Twins at the Metrodome, Guillen told reporters the right-hander had not emerged as a big-game pitcher.

Whether that was a motivational ploy or not, Vazquez had his trouble again Saturday night in a pivotal game. He gave up five hits and seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.

"I felt strong. It had nothing to do with the three days [rest]. I just didn't make the pitches," Vazquez said.

Jackson (2-3), acquired from Milwaukee in the CC Sabathia trade, allowed three hits, including solo homers by Jermaine Dye and Konerko.

"It's a great atmosphere out there. It makes it fun," Jackson said. "You just have to look at the situation and go out there. We have something to play for, also. We're not where we want to be -- in the playoffs -- but we can help stir the pot a little."

Ryan Garko singled with one out in the fifth, David Dellucci walked and Ben Francisco singled to load the bases. Cabrera, the Indians' No. 9 hitter, then delivered a bases-clearing double into the right-field corner.

After Grady Sizemore was intentionally walked, Jamey Carroll came through with a two-run double to finish Vazquez as loud boos poured out from the frustrated crowd of 36,031.

Clayton Richard relieved Vazquez and Shin-Soo Choo greeted him with an RBI single that made it 7-1.

Choo homered in the first, and the White Sox tied it in the bottom half on Dye's 34th homer. Konerko hit his 20th of the season in the seventh before Garko had an RBI double in the eighth for an 8-2 lead.

Chicago scored four in the eighth as Juan Uribe singled off Brendan Donnelly and Orlando Cabrera doubled. Dye's sacrifice fly made it 8-3 and Jim Thome greeted Rafael Perez with an RBI single. Konerko hit Jensen Lewis' first pitch for a two-run homer to cut it to 8-6. Alexei Ramirez reached on third baseman Carroll's error before Lewis got A.J. Pierzynski to fly out to end the rally.

Game notes
Cleveland scored six runs in the fifth for a second straight night. ... Indians C Victor Martinez returned from a two-game suspension for his role in a brawl with the Tigers. ... Mark Buehrle will pitch on three days' rest Sunday for Chicago.