CHICAGO -- An expected low-scoring battle between top-flight starters Jeff Samardzija and Corey Kluber turned into a 6-0 White Sox victory over the Indians on Wednesday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. By virtue of its four-run rally in the ninth inning Monday, Chicago picked up a second series victory this season. But the White Sox win in the finale wasn't as routine as the score would indicate.
Samardzija threw six scoreless innings to earn his first White Sox victory, but he needed 113 pitches to accomplish that. He pitched out of jams in the second, third and sixth innings. Kluber, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, allowed 13 hits over six-plus innings, but four of them came at the start of the seventh. He fanned six and walked one.
"I made some mistakes," Kluber said. "And I probably didn't do a good enough job pitching inside to keep them off balance when I did make those mistakes."
"It's all about proving yourself to these guys," Samardzija said. "You get new teammates, and you want to come out here and make sure you prove your worth to them and they want to go out there and play with you and be out there on tough days like that. They went out there and played great for me and Geo [Soto] called a great game and got me through it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Backing up his words: Prior to Wednesday's series finale, Abreu said he was still optimistic for the team's chances to be successful, but he understood they needed to adjust their overall approach. More >
Abreu then backed up his words, launching an opposite-field homer off Kluber in the first and driving home two more with a double in the seventh. Abreu has eight homers in 21 career games against the Indians.
"He's got really good coverage and he has quick hands," Kluber said of Abreu. "He's a really good hitter, and really good hitters take advantage of mistakes when you make them."
Abreu cut his right hand on a twist tie on the visiting dugout railing going for a foul ball. But the injury was cleaned up quickly.
This could be trouble: Samardzija pitched a scoreless first, but he had to dance in and out of tough situations the rest of the afternoon. The Indians stranded runners at first and third in the second, left the bases loaded in the third and got a runner to third with one out in the sixth but couldn't score. Samardzija has tossed 10 consecutive scoreless innings over his past two starts. He has allowed just one run over his past 19 frames. More >
2-for-1 special: Trailing 1-0 in the third, Kluber found himself in a jam after Adam Eaton led off with a walk and Cabrera singled to put runners at the corners. But Kluber avoided the big inning by getting Abreu to bounce into a double play as Eaton scored. That play grew in importance as LaRoche and Avisail Garcia followed with a walk and a single, respectively, before Conor Gillaspie flied out to end the inning.
Quality fades: Through six innings, Kluber had a quality start with three runs allowed. But he surrendered hits to the first four batters he faced in the seventh, capped by Abreu's two-run double. More >
Walk this way: Samardzija extended his streak to 65 batters without a walk until Brandon Moss drew a free pass with one out in the second inning. The White Sox right-hander actually was ahead with an 0-2 count in that at-bat.
"It feels like we won two out of three. I actually looked that up. We won two out of three." -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura on winning a tough series
"You know, it's a hard way to pitch when we're throwing up zeroes as an offense. I think he probably feels like he has to be perfect, and that's a hard way to pitch." -- Indians manager Terry Francona on Kluber
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kluber was far from his sharpest on Wednesday, but he has needed to be near perfect to have a chance at winning this season. He started the day with the 14th-lowest run support average in the Major Leagues (2.08), and he has now received a total of five runs of support in his four starts.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: After an off-day Thursday, Cleveland begins a three-game series against the Tigers in Detroit on Friday at 7:08 p.m. ET, turning to Danny Salazar. The Indians were swept in a three-game series at Progressive Field earlier this month. Detroit has won the last seven games between the teams.
White Sox:Chris Sale, who will start on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT against the Royals, hit 97 or 98 mph with his fastball on 11 of his first 28 pitches during Saturday's 12-3 victory over the Tigers. He moved into cruise control with a big lead, striking out six and throwing 101 pitches over six innings. This will be his third start this season and second at home.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.