Chicago beat Bartolo Colon and the Indians and still have faint hopes in the division race.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CLEVELAND -- The Chicago White Sox's faint hopes of repeating as American League Central Division champions remained alive after Monday's 7-1 victory over the first-place Indians at Jacobs Field.
Cleveland pitcher Bartolo Colon was far from sharp. He didn't survive the sixth inning and threw 131 pitches in suffering his 11th loss of the season.
"He never got into a rhythm," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said of Colon (12-11). "It seemed like he was taking a lot of time in between pitches. He struggled to throw strikes."
Chicago rookie Danny Wright (4-2) scattered six hits and walked just three.
"He had good stuff," Indians first baseman Jim Thome said of Wright. "He impressed me a lot by using his fastball well. He had a good changeup and a good slider. And he battled."
Thome homers: Thome's second-inning solo homer produced the Indians' only run.
Manuel said that after Thome homered, "I thought we might get to him, but we didn't."
Second baseman Roberto Alomar said the 23-year-old Chicago rookie "threw a lot of low strikes and we just couldn't get to them. He pitched a little bit better, but Bartolo kept us in the game. We just couldn't score any runs."
Thome's 47th homer landed in the center-field picnic area for his 118th RBI. Thome said he hit a changeup for his 536th extra-base hit, tying him with Napoleon Lajoie for fifth on the club's all-time list.
The third-place White Sox are eight games behind Cleveland with 18 to play. The Indians' loss, combined with the Twins' 3-2 victory over Detroit, moved Minnesota to within six games.
"We're just trying to win this division and from there hopefully get a little time off [to] get ready for the postseason," Thome said. "Right now, we have to think about winning our division first."
After scoring 24 runs against the White Sox in the first three games of the series, the Indians' bats were tamed by Wright and reliever Alan Embree.
It's not that they didn't have chances -- the Indians had baserunners in every inning except the fifth, eighth and ninth.
Smart baserunning by Chris Singleton led to the White Sox's first run in the second inning. Singleton led off with a single and took second base when Royce Clayton grounded out.
Indians catcher Einar Diaz fielded Mark Johnson's sacrifice bunt toward third base and fired a strike to Thome. Singleton didn't stop after racing to third and took advantage of Thome dropping the ball and Diaz not returning to cover the plate.
Jeff Liefer broke the 1-1 tie in the third inning with a solo homer.
The White Sox doubled their lead with another run in the sixth inning as Jose Canseco, Carlos Lee and Clayton singled to end Colon's night.
Rincon impressive: Ricardo Rincon ended the Chicago threat by striking out Johnson and Ray Durham.
After fanning Jose Valentin and Liefer to start the seventh inning, Rincon was replaced with Roy Smith, earning Manuel a round of boos from the 38,244 fans.
Smith struck out Konerko to continue the streak, but was charged with two runs in the eighth inning after he walked Canseco and Lee.
With the right-handed Tony Graffanino pinch-hitting, Manuel stayed with left-hander Rich Rodriguez, who threw two strikes, then gave up a two-run single for a 5-1 lead.
Despite the loss, Alomar said the club was happy with the split against the White Sox and said it's too soon to worry about October.
"When you get to the postseason, everything changes. The atmosphere is different and everybody starts 0-0," Alomar said.