CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago White Sox lost a key game against another AL Central contender, and they were feeling pretty lucky.
White Sox starter Phil Humber was hit in the face by Kosuke Fukudome's liner in the second inning of a 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, sending a chill through the ballpark.
``I saw it, but a little too late though,' Humber said. ``I'm not as quick as I thought.'
Humber was struck with one out. He fell to the ground as the ball bounded back to catcher Flowers.
``I was running to the dugout looking for towels, that's what my first impression was,' manager Ozzie Guillen said. ``There's a lot of things that go through your mind, just how lucky we are and how lucky he is.'
Humber stood up immediately after the play ended and appeared to be alert as the club's medical staff checked on him, but was removed after a short delay. He lobbied to remain in the game.
``When you get hit like that in that spot, it was unfair to leave him in there to try to pitch,' Guillen said. ``I think we did the right thing to get him out of there.'
Humber was struck above the right eye and was removed as a precautionary measure. He will evaluated again on Friday, when it likely will be determined if he can make his next start.
``As of right now, I feel good,' Humber said. ``Just got a little pop knot on my forehead. Other than that, I feel very fortunate.
``My wife was here, so obviously it's upsetting for her. She told me the fans were very supportive and had a lot of kind things to say to her, so I appreciate that.'
Justin Masterson pitched six effective innings and Kosuke Fukudome had a tiebreaking RBI triple for Cleveland, which pulled within 1 1-2 games of idle Detroit for the division lead. Matt LaPorta hit a two-run homer.
The Tribe opens a three-game series against the Tigers on Friday.
``It was good,' Masterson said. ``It was a much needed series. We wanted to take this final game. That's kind of been our motto to try and win each series as we go out.'
Paul Konerko homered for the White Sox. Konerko, Adam Dunn and Omar Vizquel each had two hits, and Tyler Flowers singled in a run.
Masterson (10-7) allowed two runs and seven hits, struck out two and walked three. The 6-foot-6 right-hander improved to 2-2 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts against the White Sox this season.
The Indians won the last two games of their three-game series against the White Sox after losing seven of their first eight games against Chicago this season.
``They play good baseball against us,' Indians manager Manny Acta said. ``They hit us around pretty good at the beginning of the year and they have played their best baseball against us.'
The White Sox loaded the bases with two out in the eighth, but Pestano struck out Gordon Beckham to end the inning. Beckham is 3 for 24 over his last six games, dropping his average to .238.
It was an ugly night for Beckham, who bounced into a fielder's choice with a runner on to end the second, lined softly to the pitcher with two on to end the fourth, struck out looking with two on to end the sixth.
``I am worried about him because he is chasing a lot of pitches,' Guillen said. ``When you're a hitter and you're (chasing) bad pitches, you're going to put yourself in the hole. I know it's not easy. I played this game before. I went through it. I was swinging at everything in my career as a player. But you have to lay off the high fastball.'
Konerko went deep in the third to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Konerko's 28th homer was just the sixth off Masterson in 173 innings this season.
Flowers' RBI single in the fourth tied it at 2. He also had three walks and has reached base 11 times in over his last four starts in place of injured catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Dunn singled twice for his first two-hit game since July 22. Dunn is hitting .333 in 36 at_bats against the Indians this season. He's hitting .149 against everybody else.
The White Sox (61-62) dropped under .500 one night after missing out on a chance to leap over Cleveland in second place. After the game, though, everyone's thoughts were still with Humber.
``That ball hit him in the right spot, put it that way,' Guillen said. ``That ball could have been a couple of inches down and it could have been very, very ugly.'
NOTES: Indians rookie Jason Kipnis was expected to return to the lineup after missing three games with right side soreness, but was a late scratch because of tightness in his right hamstring. He was replaced at second base by Jason Donald. ... Josh Tomlin will start Friday against Detroit's Max Scherzer. Tomlin has gone at least five innings in each of his first 36 career starts, the only big league pitcher to do that since 1919. ... The White Sox next play a three-game weekend series against AL West-leading Texas. Matt Harrison will face Chicago's Jake Peavy in the opener. . Konerko's home run was the 393rd of his career, tying Jim Edmonds for 52nd place. ... OF Austin Kearns officially cleared waivers and was released outright by the Indians.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved