CHICAGO — Nick Swisher’s power surge has been a boost for Cleveland as the Indians try for their first postseason berth since 2007.
Swisher homered from both sides of the plate for the 13th time in his career during the Indians’ 7-1 win against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday night.
Swisher tied the major league record set by former New York Yankees teammate Mark Teixeira, and the Indians pulled within a half-game of Tampa Bay and Texas in the AL wild-card race.
“The way things are kind of going down the stretch, you’ve got to step your game up in situations like this,” Swisher said. “Seasons like this don’t come around very often. We have a chance to make it into the playoffs and that’s what we’re doing.”
Slowed by injuries earlier this season, Swisher has five home runs in 13 games during September.
Batting right-handed against starter Chris Sale, Swisher homered off the left-hander leading off a four-run sixth. Asdrubal Cabrera’s three-run homer made it 6-0.
Switching around to the left side against right-hander Ramon Troncoso in the ninth, Swisher hit his 20th home run of the season.
He now has 20 career multihomer games, as well.
“It’s pretty cool having a major league record for something,” Swisher said. “I don’t care what it’s for. Just to have that — especially to share that with my boy Mark Teixeira who I love dearly — it’s just crazy. It just happens to be a lucky day.”
In a game that started after a rain delay of four hours, 23 minutes, the Indians achieved a franchise first by sweeping a four-game series from the White Sox for the third time in a season. Next up is a three-game series at Kansas City, which is three games back of Cleveland.
Zach McAllister (8-9) allowed one run and six hits in 6⅔ innings with five strikeouts and a walk.
Last-place Chicago has lost six in a row, and at 58-91 is 33 games under .500 for the first time since finishing 1976 with a 64-97 record, according to STATS.
Sale (11-13) gave up six runs and nine hits — including three homers — in 5⅔ innings and dropped to 6-11 following a 5-2 start. He has an 8.61 ERA in 23 innings against the Indians this season.
“I thought Zach’s stuff today was probably as good as we’ve seen,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He had velocity with his fastball and some power to it and he commanded it in and out very well.”
Matt Carson put Cleveland ahead in the second with an RBI single, starting only the second three-hit game of his major league career. His solo homer in the fifth was his first home run since Sept. 26, 2010, for Oakland. Carson said he watched NFL games during the lengthy delay, which helped calm his nerves
ahead of his first start of the season.
“It’s definitely been awhile, but to do it in a game like this it was a really good feeling,” Carson said of his home run.
Josh Phegley singled in a run for the White Sox in the seventh.
“It was a combination of who you’re using and how they were swinging, so right now we’re kind of in that rut we’re not scoring,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Indians manager Terry Francona hasn’t been able to determine why reliever Vinnie Pestano has struggled this season. Pestano has a career-high 4.19 ERA, allowing 35 hits in 34 1/3 innings.
“I don’t know if you can pinpoint one, we’ve tried so hard to figure it out, how do we make it better, that’s the goal,” Francona said. “I think it’s the lack of finish on his fastball, think he’s tried to find that. It’s probably cost him some location. It’s been tough, I know he’s frustrated.”
* The White Sox have not been 34 games under .500 since finishing 1970 at 56-106, according to STATS.
* The 12 consecutive losses against Cleveland ties the White Sox record for most against one opponent, set against the Boston Red Sox from Aug. 5, 1921, to May 15, 1922.
* Chicago CF Avisail Garcia was scratched from the starting lineup to be with his pregnant wife. Leury Garcia replaced him.
* The White Sox offered fans with tickets to Sunday’s game a free ticket to an April 2014 home game excluding opening day and the series against Boston (April 15-17).
WHO: Cleveland vs. Kansas City
WHERE: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
PITCHERS: Kazmir (8-8, 4.24 ERA) vs. Shields (11-9, 3.38)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM