CLEVELAND (AP) — A refreshed Carlos Rodon put another dent in Cleveland's playoff plans.
Rodon pitched brilliantly into the eighth inning and the Chicago White Sox defeated the sloppy Indians 4-3 on Saturday night.
"He's just more mature than his years right now," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He just seems to find another level to be able to get people out."
Chicago skipped the 22-year-old rookie's previous turn in the rotation, giving him a breather because he had thrown a career-high 135 2-3 innings between the majors and minors this season.
The plan worked perfectly.
Rodon (8-6) allowed one run and six hits in 7 2-3 innings. The left-hander improved to 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA in four starts and a relief appearance against the Indians.
In his last seven starts overall, Rodon is 4-2 with a 1.66 ERA.
"Just throwing strikes, just get ahead early, letting them hit the ball and let the defense do the work," Rodon said when explaining his run of success.
Ventura has been impressed with the rookie this season.
"He understands what it takes to go out there and pitch," Ventura said. "There's a longevity that comes with the kind of stuff Carlos has."
A wild pitch by Carlos Carrasco (13-11) and two misplays by rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor hurt Cleveland, which fell four games behind Houston in the race for the second AL wild card.
Lindor's throwing error on a potential double-play ball led to Chicago's first run.
Carrasco retired his first nine hitters before Adam Eaton led off the fourth with a single. Jose Abreu bounced a grounder to Lindor, whose throw sailed past second baseman Jason Kipnis and into right field. Eaton went to third and scored on Melky Cabrera's sacrifice fly for an unearned run.
Yan Gomes' sacrifice fly tied the game in the bottom half before Chicago went ahead again. Rob Brantly drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and went to second on Avisail Garcia's single. Mike Olt struck out, but a wild pitch to Micah Johnson allowed both runners to move up.
Johnson took advantage of a drawn-in infield by blooping a single out of Lindor's reach into shallow left for a 2-1 lead. Eaton hit a bouncer to Carrasco, who threw to second for a force play. Lindor dropped the ball attempting to take it out of his glove for a chance at a double play, and Garcia scored for a two-run lead.
Brantly added an RBI double in the eighth.
The game ended when Abraham Almonte was picked off first base by closer David Robertson.
Chris Johnson's two-run homer off Robertson cut the margin to 4-3 with one out in the ninth. After Almonte singled, Jerry Sands flied out. Robertson picked off Almonte with Kipnis batting to secure his 30th save.
"It was a big sigh of relief," Robertson said. "Especially because it ended the game and I got to get out of that struggle I was in."
MONTAS TO START
With 15 games to go, rookie right-hander Frankie Montas is expected to make his first career start before the season ends. The 22-year-old has a 1.29 ERA in seven relief innings this year.
"I know he'll get one," Ventura said. "It could be sometime this next week, it could be the following week. We'll see where we're at after that doubleheader Monday and then we'll go from there."
White Sox: LHP John Danks is 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 13 road starts. He's 5-13 in 25 career starts against Cleveland.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin pitched a complete game against Kansas City on Tuesday, but took the loss in a 2-0 defeat. He's held opponents to a .172 batting average in seven starts.