CLEVELAND – The White Sox troubles Sunday afternoon were spelled out in a long string of red letter K’s hung along the right-field deck at Progressive Field with each strikeout.
The Sox spent much of Sunday afternoon whiffing at Indians pitches, but with one connection, Dayan Viciedo knew he had deleted the problem.
The Sox right fielder hit a three-run home run to right field off Indians reliever John Axford in the ninth inning for a 4-3 Sox victory, the ninth time they have come from behind to win this season. The Sox broke a four-game losing streak and avoided a three-game sweep despite recording 15 strikeouts, 13 against Indians starting right-hander Corey Klube.
“I knew as soon as I made the contact,” Viciedo said through a team interpreter. “I’m very happy we won the game. We had a couple of days where it was a little tough pitching (to face), but it was good to see our team come through with a victory.”
The Sox offense had faltered during their losing streak, which included a shutout Saturday night, and aside from Jose Abreu’s 12th home run of the season, it couldn’t do much against Kluber. He allowed three hits and struck out a career high 13 in eight innings.
Kluber went on a stretch in the third, fourth and fifth innings in which he struck out seven straight Sox batters to set an Indians franchise record.
“He located well, and the one thing is we were swinging at pitches he wanted us to swing at,” Viciedo said. “You have to give him merit.”
On the eve of the city series with the Cubs, a catcher the Cubs dropped before the season hit two home runs off Sox right-hander Andre Rienzo.
George Kottaras became the first Indians player to hit two home runs in his first two plate appearances with the team when he launched solo shots in the third and fourth innings for a 3-1 Indians lead.
Kottaras had spent spring training with the Cubs before joining the Indians on a minor-league contract. He was called up because Indians catcher Yan Gomes is on paternity leave.
Rienzo allowed three runs on seven hits and walked four in 4 2/3 innings, but the Sox bullpen held the Indians scoreless the rest of the game. Daniel Webb earned the victory after one inning, and closer Matt Lindstrom picked up his fourth save. Sox manager Robin Ventura again praised Zach Putnam, who pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings.
“Those middle innings were tough for us to be able to navigate through (early in the season), and he has done a great job,” Ventura said. “Everybody else is probably in the point where they should have been to start the season. It’s been good. They have been pitching better.”
Outfielder Moises Sierra joined the Sox on Sunday morning to fill the spot left open when center fielder Adam Eaton was placed on the disabled list Saturday.
The Sox acquired Sierra off waivers from the Blue Jays on Saturday, and he served as the backup outfielder Sunday, pinch running in the ninth for Adam Dunn after Dunn and Gordon Beckham walked. Sierra scored his first Sox run on Viciedo’s homer.
“It’s another piece,” Ventura said of Sierra. “With Eaton going down, we were a little light in the outfield area. You can have Leury go out there, but it adds another piece to us.”