CHICAGO — After a rough start to the season, Jake Westbrook is finally looking like the pitcher the Cleveland Indians used to depend on.
Westbrook retired 23 of 24 batters at one stretch and Grady Sizemore hit a go-ahead two-run single in the fifth inning to lead the Indians to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
Westbrook (3-6) battled through hot and humid conditions to win his second straight outing after going 12 consecutive starts without a win. After allowing a run in the first inning, he retired 12 in a row before Scott Podsednik’s fifth-inning single and then set down another 11 straight.
“I feel really good about where I am. It’s a matter of me going out there and continue to put up consistent outings,” said Westbrook, who won 15 games in each of the last two seasons. “It feels good to get back to contributing to this team.”
In his best outing of the season, he allowed one run and two hits, struck out five and hit a batter. It was Westbrook’s ninth start since missing six weeks with a left abdominal strain.
“My sinker has been better (the last three starts). The location has been better, pretty much with all my pitches. I’m doing a good job of mixing it up. Victor and I have been on the same page on almost every time out,” Westbrook said, referring to catcher Victor Martinez.
It was another shaky ninth for closer Joe Borowski, but this time it wasn’t all his fault. Martinez dropped a called third strike on Jerry Owens, allowing him to reach first. Then, with two outs, Martinez and first baseman Ryan Garko watched Paul Konerko’s foul ball drop between them. Konerko later walked and Borowski ended the inning by getting A.J. Pierzynski to line out with runners on first and third for his 31st save in 34 chances.
“Usually I put myself in those situations, so I’m used to it. Nobody wants it. Guys aren’t trying to do that stuff. It happens you got to deal with it,” Borowski said.
The first-place Indians held on to a one-half game lead in the AL Central over Detroit, which beat Tampa Bay 9-6, and snapped Chicago’s four-game winning streak.
White Sox starter John Danks (6-9) didn’t allow a hit until Jhonny Peralta led off the fifth inning with a single. One out later, Jason Michaels doubled down the line in left moving Peralta to third. With two outs, Sizemore drove in both runners to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Owens led off the Chicago first with a single, stole second and moved to third on a groundout. After Jim Thome was hit by a pitch, Konerko hit a sacrifice fly.
Danks allowed two runs and four hits over six innings. He had a career-high eight strikeouts and walked one.
“Personally feels good to have a good one, but unfortunately I got outpitched today. Westbrook did a great job,” Danks said.
The Indians made roster moves before the game, calling up INF Asdrubal Cabrera and signing INF Russell Branyan to a minor league contract. INF Mike Rouse was designated for assignment to make room for Cabrera. Rouse hit .119 in 41 games. Branyan will play for Triple-A Buffalo.
• First-pitch temperature was 89 degrees with high humidity.