The Indians came into a vital nine-game homestand hoping to stay in — or perhaps to take control of again — the Central Division race.
But two games and a rain-out in to what is now an eight-game stand at Progressive Field, the Tribe is sinking exactly when a team that needs to improve by the trade deadline cannot afford to sink.
Justin Masterson gave up one earned run in seven innings, allowing only four hits, but fell to 8-7 on the year when the defense gave up three runs all by itself — the difference as Chicago made it 6-of-7 this year against The Good Guys with a 4-2 win.
Edwin Jackson (7-7) improved to 9-1 lifetime against the Tribe, while Sergio Santos earned his 20th save to complete a parade of three White Sox relievers, but Jackson might well have lost if the Indians had only been able to catch — or properly throw — the ball.
Chicago scored in the first when Juan Pierre led off with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Paul Konerko ground out.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth, when, with two outs, Ezequiel Carrera singled to score Matt LaPorta from second and tie the game at 1-1.
But in the White Sox sixth, with two outs and two on, Adam Dunn hit a fly ball to the warning track in center. Carrera got back on it, then might have lost it in the sun. Regardless, Carrera dropped what should have been out number three, and Chicago led 3-1 as Omar Vizquel and Konerko scored.
The Indians got one back in the bottom of the sixth when Asdrubal Cabrera scored from first on a Travis Hafner single with nobody out. But Carlos Santana hit into a double play, and the Tribe offense was for all intents and purposes done for the day.
The White Sox added a run in the seventh on another gift. Well, actually, on two gifts.
With one out, Alex Rios reached on an error when Asdrubal Cabrera backed up on a one-hopper that might have been able to be caught on the fly and mishandled the bounce. Then Rios took off for second on a steal attempt and Santana sailed the ball into center field, with Rios going to third. Mark Teahan came through with an RBI single, and Chicago had their final 4-2 margin.
The Indians’ offense basically shut down in the last three innings, with the only baserunner in the last nine outs coming on a ninth-inning walk to Santana, after which Orlando Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall were both retired by Santos to end it. But oh how Chisenhall was retired, and what bittersweet memories it evoked!
Vizquel, playing second base, ranged far to his left onto the outfield grass to corral Chisenhall's grounder with a dive, and came up with the throw to Konerko to beat Chisenhall by half a step to complete the White Sox mini-sweep.
The Tribe now gets the dubious thrill of having the Los Angeles Angels come to town ready to perhaps trot out their three best pitchers — Dan Haren, All-Star Game starter Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana, although Wednesday’s starter is as yet undecided for the Angels.
Cleveland will counter with Fausto Carmona, Josh Tomlin and David Huff against a team that took 4-of-6 from the Tribe earlier this year in two trips to Anaheim.
Let us hope that the Indians are not sporting a seven-game losing streak and a .500 record heading into their day off on Thursday.