The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Frustrated after a pair of strikeouts, Adam Dunn watched video of his first two at-bats between innings to see why he was missing so many pitches in such an important game for the Chicago White Sox.
Assessing his swing with hitting coach Jeff Manto, Dunn apparently figured out the problem.
The burly slugger homered in consecutive plate appearances, including a clutch three-run shot in the eighth inning, and the White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 on Monday night to maintain their one-game lead in the AL Central.
Dunn also went deep in the sixth as Chicago snapped a five-game losing streak and stayed in front of second-place Detroit, which beat Kansas City 6-2. The top two teams in the division each have nine games left.
“The last homer, that probably was the most important so far in my career,” Dunn said. “That was a win we needed.”
The designated hitter drove an 0-2 pitch from Vinnie Pestano (3-3) over the wall in right-center with runners on the corners and two out in the eighth, putting Chicago ahead 5-3. Kevin Youkilis kept the inning alive with an infield single off third baseman Jack Hannahan’s glove before Dunn connected for No. 41 on the year.
“We were struggling to score runs,” said Dunn, who entered the game in a 2-for-21 skid. “That guy’s tough man. I hadn’t been seeing the ball real good. He left the pitch over and it was one I was kind of swinging and missing at for about a week. Just happened to hit the barrel.”
Said Pestano: “You can’t make mistakes to those guys. You have to get ahead and you have to bring it. I wasn’t throwing my off-speed for strikes tonight. That had me leaning on fastball, missed a spot and he got me.”
Brett Myers (3-3) pitched the eighth for the win. The Indians got a run in the ninth when Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-out RBI double off Donnie Veal, who then retired Jason Kipnis on a grounder to convert his first save opportunity of the season.
Dunn reached 40 homers in a season for the first time since 2008 and the sixth time in his career. It’s quite a turnaround from last season, when he batted .159 with 11 homers in his first year with Chicago.
This has become one of the most enjoyable and crucial stretches of his career. The slugger has never reached the playoffs in 12 big league seasons.
“It’s baseball. I don’t look at it being important or this or that. This is your job,” Dunn said. “Obviously everybody wants to get to the postseason, but it’s just fun. It’s fun right now when every single game matters. I think a lot of times you put a lot of pressure on yourself. Take a step back once in a while.”
And that’s what he did after falling into the 0-2 hole against Pestano.
“With Youk getting that base hit, it’s a spot you want to be as a hitter,” Dunn said. “People look at it as pressure or this and that but to me, I love being in that situation. Obviously they’re a lot tougher than other situations but sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.”
Cleveland starter Zach McAllister struck out seven in six innings and was charged with two runs and four hits.
Chicago ace Chris Sale gave up 10 hits in seven innings, including Russ Canzler’s two-run homer in the sixth that gave the Indians a 3-1 lead.
The White Sox had another run cut down at the plate in the fourth when Alejandro De Aza tried to score from first on Youkilis’ double into the left-field corner. Catcher Lou Marson took the relay throw from third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and first base umpire Dan Bellino, who was covering the plate, called De Aza out.
A replay showed that De Aza’s foot hit the plate before the tag.
The White Sox tied it in the fifth on another close play after Alex Rios singled and A. J. Pierzynski walked. After a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners, Alexei Ramirez hit a grounder to shortstop and just beat the relay throw to first, allowing Rios to score on the failed double play.
Cleveland grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third on Kipnis’ single and Asdrubal Cabrera’s double to right.
NOTES: Dunn is the sixth player in White Sox history to reach 40 homers in a season, joining Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, Albert Belle, Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome. ... Indians OF Michael Brantley (sore groin) was out of the starting lineup. Manager Manny Acta said Brantley was injured during a rundown against Kansas City. He said Brantley will “need a day or two.” ... Acta said SS Jason Donald (wrist) was “a little sore” after swinging a bat Sunday, the first time he’s done so since being hit by a pitch Sept. 14. There is no timetable for his return. .... White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Jake Peavy might be pushed from Wednesday to Thursday, meaning he would pitch the opener of the final four-game home series against the Rays.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andy Pettitte turned in another ageless performance by pitching six scoreless innings and the New York Yankees hit four home runs to beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 Monday night and extend their AL East lead.
The Yankees took a 1 1/2-game edge over Baltimore, which split a doubleheader with Toronto. This is the first time since Sept. 2 their margin has been more than one game.
Curtis Granderson hit his 40th home run and Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez also homered as New York won for the 10th time in 12 games.
Pettitte (5-3) hasn’t given up a run in 11 innings since rejoining the rotation last week.
Swisher’s two-out, two-run shot in the first inning off Liam Hendriks (1-8) made it 3-0.
ORIOLES 4, BLUE JAYS 1, 1ST GAME
BLUE JAYS 9, ORIOLES 5, 2ND GAME
BALTIMORE (AP) — J.P. Arencibia broke open a tight game with a seventh-inning grand slam, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore to earn a doubleheader split and drop the Orioles 1 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East.
In the opener, Adam Jones went 4 for 4 with a homer to lead Baltimore. But the Orioles lost a half-game in the standings to the New York Yankees, who won 6-3 at Minnesota.
Arencibia, who came into the game mired in a 2-for-36 slump, had three hits and five RBIs. Edwin Encarnacion hit his 41st home run as Toronto ended a seven-game skid.
Ricky Romero (9-14) allowed four runs, eight hits and four walks in five-plus innings, yet stopped a 13-game losing streak over 15 starts since June 22.
Wei-Yin Chen (12-10) took the loss.
In the first game, rookie Steve Johnson (4-0) allowed three hits over five shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.62. Jim Johnson, the fifth Baltimore pitcher, worked the ninth for his major league-best 48th save in 51 opportunities.
Henderson Alvarez (9-14) took the loss.
RANGERS 5, ATHLETICS 4
ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Beltre singled home the winning run in the ninth inning and the Texas Rangers rallied past Oakland, stretching their AL West lead over the Athletics to five games with nine to play.
The Athletics’ lead for the second AL wild-card slot was cut to two games over the idle Los Angeles Angels. Oakland has lost six of eight.
Beltre, whose 35th homer tied the score in the seventh, grounded a sharp single through the middle of the infield off Tyson Ross (2-11) in the ninth, bringing home pinch-runner Craig Gentry.
The Rangers got the inning started with consecutive singles by Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler before Elvis Andrus’ sacrifice bunt. Josh Hamilton, who had already hit his major league-best 43rd homer after missing the previous five games with a cornea issue, was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Joe Nathan (3-4) got the win.
TIGERS 6, ROYALS 2
DETROIT — Justin Verlander breezed through eight innings and Prince Fielder hit a solo homer, helping the Detroit Tigers steady themselves with a win over Kansas City.
The Tigers remained one game behind Chicago in the AL Central.
Verlander (16-8) had little trouble with the Royals, who knocked him around for eight runs and 12 hits last month. He allowed two runs and nine hits this time, striking out eight without a walk.
Luke Hochevar (8-15) yielded six runs and 12 hits in 7 1-3 innings.