By STEVE HERRICK | Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Triston McKenzie struck out a career-high 14 and the Cleveland Guardians scored four runs with two outs in the seventh inning to rally for a 5-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
McKenzie (9-9) struck out eight of the last 10 hitters he faced and didn't walk a batter in seven innings, but left with his team trailing 2-1.
Rookie Steven Kwan tripled into the right field corner with two outs in the seventh to score Luke Maile, who had doubled. Amed Rosario's single through the left side giving the AL Central-leading Cleveland the lead, then the Guardians loaded the bases before All-Star Andrés Giménez added a two-run single.
Kwan believes justice was served when the rally came in time for McKenzie to get the win.
“That’s where baseball’s poetic,” Kwan said. “He busts out for all of us. He definitely deserves a win there. We’re glad we could give that to him.”
It's the second time in the week where Cleveland had a big inning with two outs, the other coming in the eighth against Detroit on Wednesday. The latest rally had the crowd of 25,521 on its feet over the final three innings.
“You get to a certain point in the game where the fans can feel the energy,” McKenzie said. “We can feel the energy and we feel we're on the cusp of something.”
All-Star José Ramirez hit a solo homer in the sixth for No. 23 of the year and his 99th RBI this season. Cleveland manager Terry Francona also thinks the late-game momentum can be felt as the rallies build with each hitter.
“They seem to feed off each other,” he said. “It’s fun to watch.”
Trevor Stephan pitched the eighth while Emmanuel Clase worked the ninth for his 28th save in 30 chances. Clase has converted his last 22 save opportunities.
The third-place White Sox fell to 3 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the division. José Abreu’s infield hit and Yoán Moncada’s single gave Chicago the early lead. Reynaldo López (5-3) was charged with three runs in the seventh.
Four of the first five Chicago batters of the game had hits and the White Sox took a 2-0 lead. McKenzie got out of that inning with a double play and dominated the White Sox over his final six innings.
“My velo was a little down in the first inning,” McKenzie said. “It was a little sluggish. Once I established my heater and I got ahead of guys I was able to get out of the zone with my off-speed stuff.”
Chicago starter Lance Lynn was removed following Giménez's two-out single in the sixth. The right-hander allowed one run and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings.
Andrew Vaughn was hit by Stephan's pitch in the eighth. The ball appeared to glance off Vaughn’s shoulder and hit him on the left side of the face, and he remained in the game.
Eloy Jiménez was next up and injured a leg swinging at a pitch and left the game. He was replaced by Adam Engel. Manager Tony La Russa said Jiménez twisted his knee, but the injury isn't thought to be serious.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus, signed to replace injured Tim Anderson, batted seventh for Chicago and was 0 for 4. Andrus, who turns 34 next week, recently cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Oakland Athletics.
Chicago has dropped three straight after winning five in a row. The White Sox were coming off a 21-5 loss to Houston on Thursday. La Russa knows his team has no choice but to forge ahead.
“If you're not strong-minded and strong-hearted you're in the wrong place,” he said.
La Russa wasn't happy with the pitch that resulted in Vaughn having a bloody lip. Chicago's manager exchanged words with Maile, the Cleveland catcher, when he came on the field to check on Vaughn.
“Anytime you pitch up and in without command it's a really dangerous pitch,” La Russa said. “I told him (Maile), ‘get away from me. You called for the pitch.’ If you don't have command and you pitch inside, you get the ball down.”
White Sox: OF Luis Robert (left wrist) took batting practice but missed his seventh consecutive start.
Guardians: C Austin Hedges was removed from the game in the fifth inning with a sprained right ankle. He slid feet first into Cleveland’s dugout chasing a wild pitch with Seby Zavala batting. Maile replaced Hedges. Francona said the team would know more about the injury Saturday.
White Sox: RHP Johnny Cueto (5-5, 2.78 ERA) worked eight innings — matching a season high -and held Houston to two runs in a win over Houston on Aug. 15.
Guardians: RHP Shane Bieber (8-6, 3.18 ERA) has won his last four starts, allowing five runs over 27 innings.
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