CHICAGO — A little rest and refocusing was just the remedy Josh Tomlin needed.
Tomlin pitched five effective innings in his return to the Indians rotation, Coco Crisp hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to break the game open and Cleveland defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-1 on Wednesday night to remain six games ahead of Detroit in the AL Central.
Tomlin (12-8) allowed one run on four hits and walked none as he ended a personal five-game losing streak that led to the right-hander being demoted to the bullpen after his last start on Aug. 30.
Since that last start, when Tomlin lasted just 1 2/3 innings against Minnesota, he pitched only one inning in relief. He came back recharged in this one, even if he was limited to 72 pitches by manager Terry Francona.
“He pitched really well,” Francona said. “When you have the rest like that there’s a reason, but you also hope there’s no rust.”
“He threw so many strikes (50), was aggressive with his fastball in, threw his cutter off of it.”
Tomlin won for the first time since July 30, when he was 11-3 with a 3.43 ERA. In six starts in August, the righty had a 11.48 ERA.
In this one though, Francona said Tomlin was back to being “crisp.”
“It never hurts to get the rest this time of year,” Tomlin said. “But you’ve still got to go out there and you have to execute pitches and still got to figure out what you were doing wrong.
“Hopefully I can build off that outing and just keep going.”
Jose Ramirez had two hits, including a triple that drove in two runs in a three-run third inning, and scored two runs. Brandon Guyer and Rajai Davis had two hits each.
Crisp, who also doubled, went deep to left with none out in the sixth to chase Carlos Rodon (7-9) who allowed six runs to match his season high and lost for the first time since July 31. The lefty was 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his previous seven starts.
“It just didn’t work out today, Rodon said. “It wasn’t my best, although I felt real good. That’s just a good ballclub.”
Crisp’s homer was his first with the Indians since rejoining them in a trade from Oakland on Aug. 31.
Adam Eaton drove in the lone White Sox run with a triple in the third.
The Indians had lost three of four as they entered Wednesday’s game with a six game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. But Francona said neither he nor his team are feeling pressure as they try to wrap up the division.
“Once my stuff (pregame preparation) is in a bundle and I’m ready to go, I have fun the rest of the day,” Francona said. “When you lose, it kind of hurts more, but that’s because (the games) are so important. But I’d rather have that than be 20 out and say we lost the game.”
Indians: Guyer (sore knee) started in right field after being struck by a pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s 8-1 loss, then leaving in the seventh. … C Yan Gomes (shoulder) was the DH at Double-A Akron on Wednesday and is expected to come off the disabled list Friday, possibly in time to catch ace Corey Kluber when the Indians open a pivotal series against Detroit.
White Sox: DH Justin Morneau (stiff neck) was out of the lineup for the second straight game. Jose Abreu was at DH with Todd Frazier switching from third to first base. . RHP Zach Putnam visited the team’s clubhouse and said he’s recovering “really nicely” from surgery on Aug. 5 to remove bone fragments from his right elbow. Following physical therapy, Putnam expects to resume throwing in December.
RHP Mike Clevinger (2-2, 5.01) faces struggling RHP James Shields (3-10, 7.30) in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday afternoon. Shields is 0-5 with a 10.75 ERA in his last eight starts. Clevinger has reached the fifth inning only once in four starts since his recall on Aug. 4 from Triple-A Columbus, but Francona said Clevinger has been “stretched out” and expects the righty can go deeper in games.