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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

Masterson shines as Indians beat White Sox 12-3

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Cleveland Indians' Justin Masterson, shown here in a March 10 game against San Diego, pitched four hitless innings Thursday against the White Sox. Cleveland Indians' Justin Masterson, shown here in a March 10 game against San Diego, pitched four hitless innings Thursday against the White Sox.
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Justin Masterson dominated as he did last season for the Cleveland Indians. This time, he got plenty of run support.

Masterson pitched four hitless innings and the Indians got 17 hits to beat the Chicago White Sox 12-3 Thursday.

Jose Lopez hit a three-run homer for Cleveland and Shelley Duncan had a two-run shot, his third home run of the spring.

“I knew from Day 1 that he would make things interesting,” Indians manager Manny Acta said of Lopez, a non-roster invitee who is hitting .529 (9 of 17). “Not too long ago he was an All-Star in this league. He’s in a lot better shape and gives us that right-hand bat that can play first, second or third. He looks very good right now.”

A.J. Pierzynski hit a solo homer for Chicago, which was without first baseman Adam Dunn, a late scratch from the lineup with a stiff neck.

“Dunn probably won’t be in there tomorrow, either,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.

Masterson faced the minimum 12 batters, striking out four. His only walk was immediately erased on a double play when shortstop Jason Donald made a backhand stab of a sharp grounder hit by Gordon Beckham to end the third.

“Always nice to see defense like that,” said Masterson, who lowered his spring ERA from 14.54 to 7.56. “Guys made plays behind me.”

It also was nice to get run support. Cleveland scored two or fewer runs in 11 of Masterson’s 33 starts a year ago. During an 11-start stretch from May 1 through June 25, he went 0-6 with a 3.34 ERA. Cleveland totaled only 22 runs in those games.

The right-hander was in command throughout and looked ready for the first opening-day start of his career.

“Maybe it was a little too good,” Masterson said. “It wasn’t perfect, but I was around the zone all day and it is always good when things go well.”

Masterson mainly uses a fastball and slider, but worked on off-speed pitches.

“I mixed and matched a lot,” he said. “Things like back-to-back changeups followed by another change. Usually my quota is like two a game. I threw maybe a couple handful.”

White Sox starter Dyland Axelrod gave up three hits and one run over three innings. Zach Stewart allowed one earned run over two innings and then five Chicago pitchers combined to give up 11 hits and nine runs over three innings.

“Stewart and ‘Axe’ did great,” Ventura said. “Then we tried to get everybody in there and you saw the result.”

Russ Canzler had three hits, Michael Brantley a two-run double and Ryan Spilborghs a pair of two-out RBI hits for the Indians.

Notes: Cleveland optioned LHP Scott Barnes and OFs Thomas Neal and Nick Weglarz to Triple-A Columbus and RHP Danny Salazar to Class A Carolina. ... LHP Kelvin De La Cruz was sold back to Cleveland by Texas, who purchased him Feb. 21. ... Cleveland’s opener April 5 vs. Toronto is sold out. ... White Sox starter Phillip Humber gave up two homers and three runs over three innings in a 4-3 ‘B’ game loss to Seattle. ... Duncan leads Cleveland with three homers and 10 RBIs. ... Cleveland LHP Rafael Perez, who has yet to appear in a game due to a sore shoulder, threw a simulated game, as did non-roster invitee RHP Robinson Tejada, who has a sore calf.



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