The White Sox had a six-run lead three times Thursday night.
Not once did it seem safe.
In a fine display of a weekend 16-inch softball game, the Sox and Indians pounded each other around until tiring as the Sox held on for a 14-9 victory.
The victory moved the Sox into a tie with the Indians for second place in the American League Central and moved them to within one game of the .500 mark.
The Sox had more trouble hitting third-base coach Joey Cora in batting practice than they did Indians starter Chad Durbin, chasing him in the first inning.
They sent 11 men to the plate and scored six runs, the most they had scored in an inning since they had six against the Phillies on June 8. Carl Everett had the big blow of the inninga three-run home runas the first five hitters scored.
But the Sox would need every one of those first-inning runs and then some as Thursday was the night of the dreaded fifth starter in the Sox rotation.
"Same results for the fifth starter," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Following the form set by his numerous predecessors, Josh Stewart was unable to make a six-run lead stand up, lasting just 31/3 innings and giving up six runs of his own on seven hits.
"It's hard for me to leave the first inning with six runs and hope they don't tie the game," Guillen said. "It's hard to watch."
At least Stewart left with the lead, if not enough innings to get a victory. In a switch from past fifth-starter performances, however, it was the Sox who built up a big lead the starter couldn't hold.
"That's the first time we scored runs [for the fifth starter]," Guillen said. "It's a shame he couldn't get the win."
Guillen will watch another call-up from Triple-A Charlotte on Friday when Jason Grilli makes his season debut. Freddy Garcia is being scratched in a precautionary move because of tightness in his right forearm, Guillen said. Stewart was sent down to make room for Grilli.
"Hopefully [Grilli] will pitch two innings," Guillen cracked.
Grilli was 9-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 25 starts in Charlotte.
An RBI single by Ross Gload and two-run home run from Ben Davis in the fourth gave the Sox another six-run lead, this time 9-3.
"It was an unbelievable game, I haven't been in too many of those," Davis said. "It was a tough night to be a pitcher. It was fun to swing the bats like that."
Ben Broussard homered off winning pitcher Neal Cotts to start the Indians' fifth and thenapparently worn out from all the swinging and running they were doingboth offenses just came to a halt.
The Sox went down in order for the first time in the sixth and the Indians retired eight straight Sox hitters until Jose Valentin's single with two outs in the eighth.
The Sox managed just one of their 16 hits after the fifth inning.