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Clevleand Indians clinch top AL seed despite loss to Chicago White Sox

By Jim Ingraham, The Sports Xchange
Clevleand Indians clinch top AL seed despite loss to Chicago White Sox
Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians lost to the Chicago White Sox, but still clinched best record in the American League. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

CLEVELAND -- Kevan Smith had two hits and two RBIs and six Chicago pitchers combined on a three-hitter as the White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 2-1 Saturday night at Progressive Field.

Despite the loss, which snapped their three-game winning streak, the Indians, with a record of 101-60, clinched the home-field advantage throughout the American League portion of the postseason, by virtue of Houston's loss to Boston earlier in the day.

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The Indians started ace Corey Kluber, but only as a tuneup for his start Thursday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series vs. the winner of Tuesday's wild-card game between Minnesota and the New York Yankees.

Kluber pitched five innings, allowing one run on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Kluber lowered his AL-leading ERA to 2.25. Kluber is the first Indians pitcher to lead the league in ERA since Cliff Lee (2.54) in 2008.

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Chicago starter Carson Fulmer (3-1) pitched five innings, allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks to get the win. Juan Minaya pitched the ninth to pick up his ninth save.

Mike Clevinger (12-6), in relief of Kluber, gave up one run on one hit in 1 1/3 innings and took the loss.

The White Sox broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning against Clevinger. With one out, Avisail Garcia walked and scored on a double into the right-center field gap.

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Kluber was removed after five innings and 81 pitches. Kluber gave up one run on six hits, with three strikeouts and no walks.

Chicago scored first, in the fourth inning, without a ball being hit hard. With one out, Jose Abreu hit a high chopper to short that went as an infield single. Abreu moved to second on a groundout by Garcia.

Smith then shattered his bat on a soft flare to shallow right field that just eluded the reach of second baseman Jose Ramirez, scoring Abreu to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.

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That snapped a streak in which Kluber had not allowed an earned run in 32 consecutive innings.

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Fulmer held the Indians scoreless on two hits through four innings. With one out in the fifth, Yan Gomes got hit by a pitch.

Michael Brantley, who was activated off the disabled list prior to the game, pinch hit for Giovanny Urshela. It was Brantley's first at bat since Aug. 8. He had been on the DL since then with a sprained right ankle.

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Brantley battled Fulmer in a 10-pitch at bat that ended with a line-drive single to right field, moving Gomes to third. Gomes then scored the tying run when Francisco Lindor grounded into a force out at second.

NOTES: Prior to the game the Indians activated OF Michael Brantley off the disabled list. Brantley had been on the DL since Aug. 9 with a right ankle sprain. ... Since July 19, the Indians' record is 53-15. ... White Sox OF Nicky Delmonico has been sent back to Chicago for further tests on his left shoulder. Delmonico had to leave Friday's game in the sixth inning after injuring the shoulder while diving for a ball in left field. ... The White Sox are in danger of becoming the first team in franchise history to not record a complete game. The Sox's previous low in a season was three, set in 2014. ... RHP Chris Volstad (1-1, 4.73) will start for the White Sox Sunday in the last game of the season. It will be Volstad's first career appearance against Cleveland.

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