CHICAGO — Francisco Lindor sensed the Cleveland Indians needed a lift coming off back-to-back losses.
Nothing like a leadoff homer or a late tiebreaking drive to get the job done.
Lindor and Jose Ramirez connected, Mike Clevinger struck out 11 in seven innings and the Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2 on Thursday afternoon.
Lindor opened the game against Carlos Rodon with his 15th home run. He also singled and scored in the seventh when Ramirez broke a 2-all tie with a two-run drive to right-centre against Chris Volstad (1-4) for his 20th homer.
"That's one of the reasons I want to lead off — to get the team going, to do my best to score early and give the team the lead," Lindor said. "Whether it's a home run, a base hit, I ended up scoring in the first inning. It's important. It tells the team, 'All right, it's time to go, we've got to win today."
And this one, he said, was "extremely important."
The Indians got another run with two outs in the eighth when reliever Juan Minaya dropped the throw from first baseman Jose Abreu while covering the bag on Greg Allen's grounder. That allowed Yan Gomes to score from second to make it 5-2.
Clevinger (5-2) gave up two runs and five hits while walking just one batter.
Cody Allen worked the ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances as the AL Central leaders salvaged a four-game split.
Abreu went the opposite way with a two-run homer to the right-field bullpen in the first. But Clevinger shut down the White Sox after that, beating them for the second time this season.
"It was a nice piece of hitting by Abreu, but Clev threw the ball so well," manager Terry Francona said. "He put that behind him, and then he got them out the rest of the way."
Rodon went five innings in his second start back from shoulder surgery in September, allowing two runs and two hits. The 25-year-old left-hander walked three and hit two batters while striking out four.
Manager Rick Renteria said it's "like a little bit of spring training" for him. But Rodon wouldn't go there.
"Nah, I don't want to make that excuse," he said. "When you show up at this level, it's time to compete. Go out there and compete for the team, try to win the ballgame."
Lindor has three leadoff homers this season and six in his career. And Abreu moved ahead of Jim Thome and into a tie for 12th place with Minnie Minoso on the White Sox's all-time list with 135 homers.
Indians: The Indians activated OF Brandon Guyer (strained neck) from the 10-day disabled list and designated OF Melky Cabrera for assignment. Guyer was in the lineup for the first time since he collided with a fan while chasing a foul ball at Houston on May 19. As for Cabrera, manager Terry Francona said the team "didn't see a way we were going to be able to keep" him with Guyer back and OF Tyler Naquin (strained left hamstring) just about ready to return.
White Sox: RHP Nate Jones (strained muscle in forearm) called it "a relief" tests showed no structural damage in his surgically repaired arm. He said he had been "self-treating" himself for a few weeks after experiencing some soreness but realized he needed more help when he felt a burning sensation during Tuesday's win over Cleveland. Jones had Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow last season. He is 2-2 with a 4.01 ERA and four saves in 27 appearances this year. ... Renteria said OF Avisail Garcia (strained right hamstring) — on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte — "feels healthy, feels sound."
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (10-2, 1.99) goes for his major league-leading 11th win as the Indians open a three-game series against RHP Kyle Gibson (1-4, 3.45) and the Minnesota Twins.
White Sox: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (2-4, 3.26) eyes his second straight win as the White Sox open a three-game series against RHP Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.01) and the Detroit Tigers. Lopez pitched into the seventh at Boston on Sunday.
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