Completely Clutch Kluber Shuts Down Sox; Indians 3, White Sox 1

Corey Kluber is back.

After three straight losing starts for the first time this year, Kluber ended his winless drought with a complete game gem on Saturday night, limiting the Chicago White Sox to one run on five hits in a 3-1 victory.

The Indians’ new ace this season, Kluber (14-9), got back to the basics Saturday, throwing first pitch strikes with excellent control of his fastball. He gave the Indians another quality start, allowing one unearned run in his nine innings, no walks, and five hits. He tacked eight more strikeouts to his season total while steadily climbing up the Indians’ all-time list for strikeouts in a season. He now ranks 17th in Cleveland history with 223 strikeouts on the season, having passed Gaylord Perry’s 216 in 1974 and Luis Tiant’s 219 in 1967 on the single-season strikeout list.

Of the 27 outs retired by Kluber on the night, 23 outs came on three pitches or less.

“I thought he was tremendous,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “He spent his side session working a little bit on his direction to the plate. I think that freed him up and he commanded the ball, especially with his fastball early. I think he threw the first eight hitters exclusively fastballs. I don’t think he threw a cutter until he got to Flowers. He commanded it, both sides, and once he got into the lineup and started using his breaking ball, he was really good.”

The Indians and White Sox were locked at one heading into the bottom of the seventh. Reliever Zach Putnam (4-3), a former Cleveland reliever, had taken over on the mound for Jose Quintana, who had held the Indians in check throughout the ball game. After the newest Indian J.B. Shuck was retired pinch-hitting for Tyler Holt, Michael Bourn worked a one-out walk. Jose Ramirez sent a drive to the wall that right fielder Avisail Garcia could not catch. The triple scored Bourn to give Cleveland a 2-1 advantage. Brantley drove in Ramirez with a single that perfectly split the pulled in right side of the infield to score the third and final run of the game.

It was Brantley’s 88th RBI of the season. The runs allowed by Putnam were the first earned runs he has surrendered since July 12th, a span of 13 straight appearances. That game was also against Cleveland.

Kluber allowed a hit in the ninth, but struck out Andy Wilkins for the final out with his 104th pitch to finish his third complete game of the season.

“They came out super aggressive,” said Kluber. “They were putting the ball in play on the first two or three pitches starting off, so Yan and I kind of made it a point to establish the fast ball early and throw that for strikes. Later on, we could work in the other stuff. Up until the last pitch to Flowers in his first at bat, they were all fastballs.”

The White Sox struck first in the top of the third on a lucky hop. Jordan Danks reached on a single to right field with one out. Tyler Flowers struck out for the second out of the inning, but Adam Eaton put a ball in play that glanced off of the glove of first baseman Jesus Aguilar and skipped past Jason Kipnis into right field. Danks scored from second base on the error to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.

Carlos Santana tied up the ball game with a laser beam off of a 91 MPH fastball from Chicago starter Quintana in the bottom of the fourth, parking a pitch onto the Home Run Porch in left field to lead off the inning. It was just the eighth home run given up by Quintana this season. It was the 25th home run of the season for Santana and his 72nd run batted in.

The White Sox threatened in the fifth, but a full extension dive from Bourn robbed them of two runs. Carlos Sanchez singled to center and moved to third one out later as Flowers doubled to the wall in left field. Both men were stranded on Bourn’s highlight reel catch, robbing Eaton in shallow center.

Cleveland missed a chance of its own to score in the bottom of the inning after Bourn doubled off of the base of the right field wall with one out. Ramirez reached on an infield single to third and a bloop single to center by Michael Brantley loaded the bases. But Santana popped up weakly in foul territory between first and home and Yan Gomes struck out to leave them loaded.

Quintana better resembled the lethal lefty the Indians have seen throughout his career and not the starter who they tagged for six runs in five innings in their last encounter. He lasted six innings on the evening, allowing one run on seven hits. He struck out seven batters and walked just one.

The top of the Indians lineup did all the heavy lifting. The quartet of Bourn, Ramirez, Brantley, and Santana finished the game 8-for-14 (.571) with a double, a triple, a home run, two stolen bases, all three runs scored, and all three runs batted in. The only other Indians player to reach base was Kipnis with an infield single in the fourth.

“[Ramirez] definitely had an effect on the game tonight. He used his speed,” said Francona. “I thought Bourny did a good job, when he was on first, making them pay attention to him, and then Jose got a pitch he could hit. That changed the game. At that point, we’re just trying to get another run and hold on. And he gets all the way to third so they have to play the infield in and Brantley sneaks one through there.”

The win was the Indians 20th of the season when scoring three runs or less.

The Indians (73-67) picked up ground in the American League Central again with their second straight win over the Sox. Losses by the Kansas City and Detroit earlier in the day on Saturday pulled the Indians within five of the Royals and three within the Tigers. The White Sox (63-78) remain in fourth place, 15 ½ games out and just two games ahead of Minnesota for worst record in the division.

Carlos Carrasco (6-4, 2.94 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe on Sunday. In five starts since returning to the starting rotation, he is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA. Scott Carroll (5-9, 5.07) will start in place of Hector Noesi, who was pushed back a day in the White Sox rotation. He earned a win in Cleveland in July with five innings of scoreless, two-hit ball. It will be his fourth game and third start against the Indians this season.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM. Follow all of the action on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio or on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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