Paul Konerko hit a three-run homer and improved his batting average against left-handed pitchers to .369 Friday night as the White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3 to stay in a first-place tie with the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.
A U.S. Cellular Field crowd of 27,196 cheered as Sox closer Tom Gordon struck out pinch-hitter Matt Lawton and Brandon Phillips to end the game.
Jon Garland allowed two runs on five hits over 71/3 innings to raise his record to 11-10.
"My sinker was working, and I threw some good sliders," Garland said. "They got me ground balls, and I threw pitches for strikes."
The Indians scored two runs to cut the lead to 5-3 and had runners on second and third in the eighth. But reliever Damaso Marte came in and struck out Alex Escobar to close the inning.
"I never want to come out of a game," Garland said. "But I believe in my bullpen and what they can do."
Indians left-hander Billy Traber (6-8) lasted 42/3 innings against manager Jerry Manuel's all-right-handed hitting lineup. Traber yielded five runs and nine hits, including home runs by Konerko, his 16th of the season and his 10th off left-handed pitching, and Magglio Ordonez, his 26th of the year and 12th off lefties.
"I'm confident that if we've seen the pitcher before, our right-handed lineup can hit the lefties," Manuel said. "Especially the way Konerko and Joe Crede have been hitting lately."
Konerko got two hits off Traber and now is 4-for-5 lifetime against him.
The game began painfully for Sox left fielder Carlos Lee. With a baserunner on second base, Lee crashed into the wall catching Ben Broussard's deep smash to end the Indians' first inning. After lying on the turf for a moment, Lee gingerly arose.
"That catch picked me up," Garland said. "All three catches in the first inning did. I think they turned the game around. I'd been getting behind hitters. Then I started getting ahead."
Lee's first time at bat, Traber plunked him with a pitch in the ribs to lead off the second inning.
Lee jogged to second on Carl Everett's single to left. Next, Konerko ripped a towering, 407-foot three-run homer.
Meanwhile, Garland pitched effectively, blanking the Indians on one hit, Jody Gerut's first-inning double, through the first four innings.
In the home half of the fourth, the Sox added another run on three hits. Everett and Konerko singled, and Joe Crede doubled home Everett as Konerko moved to third with nobody out. However, Traber stopped the bleeding and retired the next three batters.
The White Sox chased Traber in the fifth after Ordonez homered to make the score 5-0. Everett then doubled for his third hit and Traber issued Konerko the first of his two intentional walks. Jose Santiago relieved Traber and retired the side.
Cleveland nicked Garland for a run, making it 5-1, in the seventh. Broussard tripled to right-center and scored on a single by designated hitter Travis Hafner.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times