CHICAGO (AP) - A rare off-day for the entire Cleveland Indians bullpen had Chris Perez pointing fingers.
Perez gave up a game-ending grand slam to Alex Rios in the 10th inning to lift the Chicago White Sox to a 7-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.
But it wasn't that pitch he took issue with.
A batter earlier, Perez delivered a 1-2 pitch to Tyler Flowers that was called a ball. Perez looked back to check the runner on second, and appeared to look back again as he was delivering the pitch.
Flowers stood straight up in the box and took the pitch. Home plate umpire Ed Hickox didn't call a balk, but he didn't call a strike either.
``It wasn't a balk,' Perez said. ``It looked like that's was everybody thought. The hitter even looked like time was called. They didn't say anything. The umpire just froze.'
``That's a strike,' Perez said. ``I didn't miss in, I didn't miss out, I didn't miss up and I didn't miss down. I'm surprised he didn't crush it. It was a pretty good pitch to hit 1-2. But that's not why we lost.'
Strikes were an issue all game for Cleveland's bullpen, which was charged with nine walks - two intentional - despite coming in with the third fewest walks and fifth most innings pitched among A.L. bullpens.
``Very rarely you see major league pitchers one through five have to struggle throwing strikes,' Perez said. ``We'll have our off-days here and there, but not our whole bullpen.'
Cleveland came in ranked second in the American League with a 3.37 earned run average.
``We played with fire long enough, and basically what has been our strength the whole season pretty much killed us today,' Indians manager Manny Acta said. ``You can't expect to unintentionally walk nine guys and win a ballgame. That got us in trouble a few times and we were able to get out of it, but we couldn't finally at the end.
``They're allowed to go through a rough spot. I'm not going to sit here and complain about these guys, they have been very good all season.'
Rios' one out, first-pitch shot off Perez (3-7) was Chicago's first game-ending home run this season and his first career grand slam.
Sergio Santos (4-4) threw a scoreless inning to get the win in relief. Santos combined with Chris Sale to strike out six straight batters during the late innings.
Shelley Duncan doubled, homered and scored two runs for Cleveland. Matt LaPorta added a two-run double and Jim Thome singled twice.
Indians starter Fausto Carmona allowed six hits and three runs in 5 1-3 innings but fell behind a number of hitters, running up his pitch count. He lowered his ERA to 9.14 ERA in four starts against the White Sox this season.
Chicago's Phil Humber was sharp in his six innings, holding Cleveland to two runs and striking out seven. Humber threw seven scoreless innings in his previous start at Minnesota, winning for the first time in over two months, but settled for a no-decision on Saturday.
The Indians went ahead on LaPorta's two-run double in the fifth, which came on the heels of Duncan's double and Lonnie Chisenhall's single. LaPorta was making his first start for the Indians since Aug. 29, the day before he was sent down to Triple-A Columbus.
The rally snapped Humber's streak of 13 1-3 scoreless innings.
Adam Dunn singled in the sixth, snapping a string of 18 hitless at_bats, and started Chicago's rally. De Aza doubled off the center-field wall, sending Dunn to third and Carmona to the showers after 103 pitches.
Chad Durbin replaced Carmona and walked Brent Morel and Beckham, forcing in Dunn with the tying run. Juan Pierre singled in De Aza, giving Chicago a 3-2 lead.
The White Sox pulled Humber after just 73 pitches, bringing in Jesse Crain to start the seventh. Duncan greeted Crain with a homer to left-center, tying the score 3-all.
Duncan has with five homers and 10 RBIs in seven games over the last week.
The White Sox came up empty on bases-loaded, one-out situations in the first, sixth, eighth and ninth, and stranded 15 runners during the first nine innings before Rios snapped the streak in the 10th.
``It was great,' Rios said. ``We battled through the whole game. It was a long game and to do that, it's good. Anytime you get a win, it's good, no matter what fashion you do it.'
NOTES: First base umpire Ed Rapuano had to leave the game because of sore neck. Indians RHP Josh Tomlin (elbow) is doing ``very well' with his throwing program and the team is leaning toward not shutting him down, manager Manny Acta said. Acta doubts Tomlin will have the arm strength to return as a starter, but would still like to see him pitch before the season ends. DH Travis Hafner (foot) ran the bases on Saturday but Acta said there is still no timetable on his return. 3B Jack Hannahan (calf strain) will rejoin the Indians in Texas, though Acta is not sure when he'll return to game action. The Indians will send Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound for Sunday's series finale against Chicago rookie Zach Stewart. Jimenez is 2-1 with a 5.56 ERA since he was acquired from Colorado on July 31. Stewart is coming off a one-hit shutout of Minnesota on Sept. 5 in which he carried a perfect game into the eighth inning.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved