CHICAGO -- Thanks to Ubaldo Jimenez, the Cleveland Indians continued their dominance of the Chicago White Sox with an 8-1 win Saturday.
And the way he's pitching, Jimenez might lead the Indians into the playoffs.
Jimenez pitched into the ninth inning and the Indians kept up in the American League playoff race by beating the White Sox for the 11th straight time.
The win allowed Cleveland to pull within 1 1/2 games of Texas for the lead in the American League wild-card chase and Jimenez made sure the Indians' offense didn't need to do much.
Jimenez (12-9) continued his strong September, allowing one run and striking out eight in 8 1/3 innings, coming within two outs from his first complete-game shutout since June 1, 2011, as a member of the Colorado Rockies. He has won all three of his starts this month and gave up his first earned run in 21 1/3 September innings.
"I like challenges. Coming to the stadium every day knowing that every single game counts is exciting," Jimenez said. "As a pitcher I want to go out there every five days and compete and give my chance to win."
Chen-Chang Lee replaced Jimenez with one out in the ninth and runners on first and second and allowed a single to Dayan Viciedo to load the bases. Josh Phegley's sacrifice fly to center ended Cleveland's chance at its 17th shutout of the season.
That run, however, didn't diminish what Jimenez accomplished against the White Sox.
"He was able to attack the zone and not change anything," catcher Yan Gomes said. "Once he got to the sixth, seventh inning I think he had 70 or 80 pitches. It kind of makes it very good to work with what he's got."
Not that he needed it, but Jimenez got plenty of support from his offense to continue Cleveland's run against Chicago.
Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run homer and Lonnie Chisenhall's three-run blast both came in the fourth inning off Andre Rienzo. The Indians have won 14 of 16 against Chicago this year and have outscored the White Sox 99-50 with three games left between the teams.
The 11-game streak is the longest by any team against another in baseball, but Cleveland manager Terry Francona downplayed its significance.
"I didn't even ever think of that. By the time we get done here we'll be going in to prepare for (Chris) Sale because that won't matter," Francona said. "I don't think that really matters. I really think you catch teams at different times of the year."
While Cleveland, which has won four of six and three straight and is looking for a return to the postseason, is finishing strong, Chicago is sputtering to the end of a miserable season.
Making his ninth major league start, Rienzo (2-2) couldn't help the White Sox end their struggles against Cleveland. Rienzo went four-plus innings and allowed five runs, seven hits and walked four batters.
The four walks were the third time that Rienzo has walked at least four batters.
"I fell behind giving the hitters an opportunity to hit me hard," Rienzo said. "So, no excuses."
Chicago has lost five straight and 14 of 16 and was held to three runs or fewer for the 75th time this year. The White Sox fell to 58-90 for their first 90-loss season since 2007, dropped to a season-worst 32 games below .500 and need to go 5-9 avoid their first 100-loss season since 1970.
Jimenez didn't help the White Sox avoid any of those negative benchmarks.
"He was good," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That's as good as I've seen him the last two years."
With fellow starter Justin Masterson sidelined by a strained left oblique muscle, Jimenez might need to keep that up to for the Indians to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Based on what's gone on in September, Jimenez might be up to the task.
"It's very fun because, like I said, everything counts right now," Jimenez said. "You have to bring you're A-game to the table every single day.
"It doesn't matter who you're facing, you have to go against them with everything you have. You never know what game's going to make a difference."
NOTES: Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco returned to the team on Thursday after leaving Tuesday. Francona said Carrasco "lost a baby" but didn't elaborate further. Francona hadn't explained Carrasco's absence before Saturday. "It's a hard thing to talk about because you're not supposed to, and I want to respect his privacy but I don't want to just lie to you guys," Francona said. ... With the team out of contention, Ventura didn't rule out shutting down any pitchers for the season. ... 1B/DH Adam Dunn was not in the Chicago lineup, one day after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Dunn is 3-for-34 in his last 10 games. Ventura also said 1B/DH Paul Konerko "probably" would get Sunday off. ... Sunday's pitching matchup is Cleveland's Zach McAllister (7-9, 4.11 ERA) against Chicago's Chris Sale (11-12, 2.90 ERA).
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