Chicago White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton thought a couple of days off did him some good.
It showed in the results.
Eaton hit a two-run home run during a three-run eighth inning as the Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 8-6 in extra innings in Game 1 of a doubleheader Monday in front of 10,726 at Progressive Field.
The Sox couldn’t complete the sweep, falling in the second game 3-1.
Indians third baseman José Ramírez spoiled Jimmy Lambert’s first big-league start in Game 2, hitting a two-run home run off the right-hander in the third inning. Lambert, the No. 16 prospect in the Sox organization according to MLB.com, allowed three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk in 3⅔ innings in a solid outing.
“It was nice to get out there for sure,” Lambert said. “I almost felt like I was making my debut today. First start, it’s a lot different. But I was OK with how it went.”
Lambert made his first two major-league appearances with the Sox last season and allowed two hits with two strikeouts in two relief innings before being placed on the injured list July 29 with a right forearm strain.
“It’s kind of indescribable how it felt to be back,” Lambert said. “When you get sent out of here, there’s no telling if you’re going to be back, especially with the arm troubles I’ve had in the past. It was special to be out there. I would have loved to pitch to a win, but I’m definitely happy to have gotten my first start under my belt. I’m overall OK with how I threw.”
With Monday’s split, the Sox maintained a 3½-game lead in the American League Central over the second-place Indians.
Eaton last played Wednesday, when he left the game against the St. Louis Cardinals early with right hamstring tightness. He missed the four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
He had two hits in his return, including the home run.
“It was good to be able to produce,” Eaton said. “It was just good to be out with the guys. Those three or four days felt like a week and a half, 10 days. It seemed like a long time.”
Eaton said he was feeling “good enough” and at “70 to 80%.” He credited the training staff for getting him in a position to play.
After the score was tied at 5 at the end of the regulation seven innings for doubleheaders, Billy Hamilton scored on a sacrifice fly by José Abreu to give the Sox a 6-5 lead in the eighth.
Abreu collected the RBI on the eighth pitch of the at-bat against reliever James Karinchak.
“That at-bat by Abreu, it would be tied for first for one of the greatest I’ve seen against a pitcher of that caliber in that kind of situation,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “I’ll never forget it and our fans will never forget it.
“You drive in runs, it’s one thing. It’s really a skill. But you come in and produce in a situation like that, that goes to the next level. The toughness and concentration and the ability to put it into play someplace. There are really good RBI guys and there are great RBI guys. Abreu is great.”
Eaton followed a Yermín Mercedes walk with his fifth home run of the season.
“He threw me a first-pitch breaking ball up for a ball, and I was just sitting dead red heater because I didn’t think he was locating that off-speed all that well,” Eaton said. “I got a pitch in the middle of the barrel, and like I said, it just thrills me to be able to help the team win.”
The Indians scored once in the bottom of the eighth before Aaron Bummer struck out Yu Chang for the final out.
“The whole game, that was a whole eight innings of character,” La Russa said.
Home runs were the story early. Sox starter Carlos Rodón surrendered two homers in his first four pitches. César Hernández homered to left-center on the first pitch. Amed Rosario made it 2-0 with a home run to left on a 1-1 count.
The Sox responded quickly with four runs in the second.
Hernández hit his second home run of the game in the third. Josh Naylor singled with two outs in the fourth and scored when Chang doubled over Eaton’s head in right to tie the score at 4.
Indians starter Triston McKenzie struck out eight consecutive Sox starting with the final out of the third. Yoán Moncada snapped the streak with a single to right with one out in the sixth. Moncada eventually scored on a fielder’s choice.
The Indians tied it again in the sixth when Bradley Zimmer beat Anderson’s throw to first for a run-scoring infield hit. The Indians placed runners on second and third with two outs later in the inning, but Rodón struck out Hernandez to keep the score tied.
“I was going to give it all I had on that fastball,” said Rodón, who allowed five runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts and one walk in six innings.
The game could have gotten away from the Sox early. Instead, they found a way to win.
“Grinded out a win,” Rodón said.
Lambert got the start in Game 2 after joining the Sox from Triple-A Charlotte to serve as the 27th player for the doubleheader.
He retired the first five Monday before allowing three singles in the second, the third of which resulted in an RBI for Zimmer. The Sox tied it when Nick Madrigal knocked in Hamilton with a single.
Ramírez broke the tie in the third with his 13th homer, making it 3-1.
“He wasn’t afraid at all,” La Russa said of Lambert, who was returned to Charlotte after the game. “They got to a couple of pitches in the count. I thought he handled himself very well.”
Moncada had two hits in Game 2 for the Sox, who lost for just the second time in nine games.
“I was in the clubhouse for most of the first game, and guys come in and out and they want to win,” Lambert said. “That’s what this is all about. And every time I came (back) into the dugout, it was, ‘Way to keep us in the game,’ stuff like that. It’s all about the win, that’s all that matters.
“And it adds a little bit more to each outing, that’s for sure, to each inning, to each pitch. It’s a lot of fun to pitch for a team that’s maybe one of the best in baseball.”