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Published: Friday, 8/19/2011

Tribe shuts down Sox

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
Matt LaPorta, right, is congratulated by Jack Hannahan after clubbing a two-run home run in the fourth inning last night in Chicago. Matt LaPorta, right, is congratulated by Jack Hannahan after clubbing a two-run home run in the fourth inning last night in Chicago.
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CHICAGO -- Justin Masterson pitched six effective innings, Kosuke Fukudome had a tiebreaking RBI triple, and the Cleveland Indians inched closer to the top of the AL Central with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox last night.

Matt LaPorta hit a two-run homer for Cleveland, which pulled within 1 1/2 games of idle Detroit for the division lead.

The Tribe opens a three-game series at Detroit tonight.

Paul Konerko homered for the White Sox, which lost starter Phil Humber on a scary play in the second inning. 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. Chris Perez got the last three outs for his 27th save in 30 chances.

Humber was knocked out of the game when he was struck in the head by a line drive by Kukudome in the second inning. He was alert and responsive as he left the field.

Acta ready for wild ride

CHICAGO -- They're all big. All 42 of them after last night's game between the Indians and White Sox.

In a demented way, one could say that every one of the Indians' remaining games is a playoff game. But is that a smart way to look at them? Is it healthy?

"Every game means a lot when we play the White Sox, and after this, we're going to play Detroit," said Tribe manager Manny Acta. "With so many games left, if we go day by day paying attention to that, I'm going to get a heart attack.

"You can't get away from it. That's the fun part of it."

The Indians are right behind first place Detroit in the American League Central. The White Sox are four games behind the Tigers.

After last night's game, 30 of the Indians' final 42 games will be played in the Central. They will face Detroit nine times, Chicago eight times, Minnesota seven times, and Kansas City six times.

Acta said the stretch run will be easier on the players than the coaching staff, front office, and fans.

"It's a lot easier for them than us," said Acta. "I have nothing else to do but think about it. Try to come back the next day with a better plan. Or think ahead a week in advance.

"The players can put it behind them. Go out to dinner. Tweet. IPad and come to work the next day. Don't get me wrong, they do care, but it's not like us."

Don't get the wrong idea. Acta knows this is the time of year players and managers relish. He just thinks everyone should be allowed to take a deep breath now and then.

"This is the way it should be," he said. "Every game is important. But Jiminy Christmas, the top three teams right now could still finish 20 games out of first place with the amount of games left.

"You've seen it. All it takes is one good week by the two clubs playing here tonight to be three up. They lose seven in a row, we win seven in a row, bingo, we're three up. In a week."

Last year at this time, the Indians were 49-70.

"This is the time of year when you want to be scoreboard watching," said Acta. "You want to be playing meaningful games. What were we doing at this time last year? We had six guys out there who were getting their first opportunity to play in the big leagues. We were just sitting back, letting them play and teaching them."



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