CHICAGO -- The Indians won for the 12th consecutive time, marking the longest win streak of any team in the Major Leagues in 2017, by claiming a 5-3 victory over the White Sox on Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field. The outcome officially eliminated the White Sox from American League Central contention and dropped the Indians' magic number to clinch the division to 17.
Cody Allen finished the victory by striking out pinch-hitter Rob Brantly for his 24th save, stranding two runners in the ninth.
Trevor Bauer improved to 15-8 by allowing two runs on three hits over 6 1/3 innings, while striking out nine. The right-hander hasn't lost a decision since July 16 and has gone at least six innings in seven of his past eight starts.
"I thought he was really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He hung a breaking ball for the two-run homer that, because of the score, all of a sudden, it's 3-2, but other than that I thought he was pretty good. I actually thought he could have kept going."
"You have to tip your cap to the kid," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He has good stuff and was able to mix up pitches enough and throw strikes to do what he needed to do. We battled. We kept it close, as much as we could, and just fell a little short."
Indians starters during the 12-game winning streak have an 11-0 record with a 1.51 ERA. Bauer had 16 swings and misses, per Statcast™, including five on his knuckle curve and four each on his four-seam and cut fastballs.
Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez hit solo homers for the Indians. Ramirez's blast leading off the eighth off Chris Beck marked his sixth extra-base hit in the past two games and his AL-leading 76th extra-base hit.
James Shields was hit with more than his sixth loss. With nobody out and Abraham Almonte on first in the seventh, Francisco Mejia lined a shot off of Shields' right knee. The ball bounced back toward catcher Omar Narvaez, who threw out Mejia at first, and Shields eventually limped off the field with a bruised right knee. X-rays were negative and he is day to day. Shields allowed four runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two.
"We expect he's going to be OK," said Renteria of Shields. "We'll check him [Tuesday] and see how he's progressing from the initial blow, but he walked off the field on his own, so we're hopeful he'll be OK. And he threw the ball well today."
The Indians have outscored their opponents, 84-21, during their winning streak.
"It's pretty similar [to winning 14 in a row last year]," Ramirez said through an interpreter. "I see the team feeling the same way. We're happy, we're relaxed, we're united and that's something that's really important."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Liriano goes deep:Rymer Liriano, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday, made his first hit with the White Sox a big one when he drove a hanging Bauer knuckle curve 393 feet (per Statcast™) to left-center for a two-run homer. The ball had an exit velocity of 103.6 mph according to Statcast™, and cut the Indians' lead to 3-2 in the fifth. It was Liriano's second career homer and first since 2014 with the Padres, when Renteria was his bench coach. Liriano added a run-scoring double in the seventh off reliever Joe Smith.
"It's been hard for me to get back to the Majors," Liriano said. "I've worked a lot on my swing in the Minor Leagues. It's a really good opportunity the White Sox have given me."
First time for everything: Mejia, the Tribe's No. 1 prospect and the No. 15 prospect in baseball per MLBPipeline.com, took care of two career firsts with one swing of the bat in the fourth. Mejia's two-out single off of Shields scored Santana, giving the talented rookie his first hit and his first RBI and providing the Indians a 3-0 lead.
"I didn't think too much about the hit," Mejia said through an interpreter. "I hit the ball and I ran to first base hard and [first-base coach] Sandy [Alomar] said, "Go two, go two.' It was good to get the first base hit. They were saying 'Attaboy, congratulations' [in the dugout]." More >
"You just get excited for your pitcher, your team. You turn a run into an out, which is a momentum play." -- White Sox center fielder Adam Engel, on taking away a home run from Austin Jackson in the fifth by leaping above the center-field fence
HE DID IT AGAIN
White Sox fans can now legitimately debate which spectacular Engel catch in center has been the best this season. He added another one to the list by taking a home run away from Jackson with one out in the fifth via a leaping catch over the center-field wall. Engel took a home run away from Houston's Brian McCann on Aug. 8 with a leaping catch over the right-center-field fence. More >
"Getting back there and timing the jump is the toughest thing," Jackson said. "[Engel's] been able to do it a few times this year, and he just added to more of the great plays he's made this year."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor appeared to get an early rally going by singling to right field off Shields. Lindor took a hard turn and broke for second base looking to stretch a double, and he was thrown out Avisail Garcia to Tim Anderson after Lindor's hand came off the base. The Indians challenged that Lindor didn't come off the bag with the tag applied. The call on the field stood, and the Indians lost their challenge.
Roberto Perez was ruled safe at second on what looked to be a double to right with one out in the ninth. Renteria challenged the call and after video review, the call stood with shortstop Anderson just missing a swipe tag.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians:Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.30 ERA) will make his return to the rotation after missing two turns while on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation. He'll take the mound for the 8:10 p.m. ET game at Guaranteed Rate Field, after allowing two runs over six innings his last time there July 28.
White Sox:David Holmberg (2-3, 3.55) makes his seventh start of 2017, fourth at home and second vs. Cleveland in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT contest. Holmberg is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA, .245 opponents' average and a 1.44 WHIP over his six starts this season.