TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Carlos Rodon struck out a career-high 11 over eight dominant innings and the Chicago White Sox denied Cleveland any chance of winning the AL Central title by beating the Indians 3-0 on Sunday.
Rodon (8-10) blanked the Indians on just two singles and easily handled the division leaders who still haven’t wrapped up a playoff spot and have gone flat at the worst time possible. Cleveland needed to win its regular-season finale at home and Detroit to lose to Kansas City for the Indians to clinch their first division championship since 2007.
Now, they will have to try and do it on the road against the Tigers, whom they’ve beaten 13 times in 15 games this season. The clubs open a four-game series Monday at Comerica Park.
It was a disappointing finish for the Indians at Progressive Field, where they went 50-27 and had 11 walk-off wins in a season of comebacks. Cleveland had three errors for the second straight game.
Carlos Sanchez had two RBIs off Josh Tomlin (12-9), who matched Rodon for 6 2-3 innings.
Chicago’s left-hander turned in his best outing this season in Cleveland’s biggest game. Rodon struck out the side in the eighth before David Robertson worked the ninth for his 36th save.
Maybe feeling some of the pressure to wrap up a division they’ve led since June 4, the Indians didn’t get their first hit until the fifth, when Cleveland threatened to get a run across.
Brandon Guyer singled leading off and took second on a passed ball. Coco Crisp walked and Chris Gimenez sacrificed. But Michael Martinez popped to short right, not deep enough to score Guyer and Rodon struck out Rajai Davis.
Tomlin gave up a leadoff infield single to Tim Anderson in the first and then retired 12 straight, nine of them on fly balls to the outfield, before Todd Frazier singled to open Chicago’s fifth.
Frazier stole second with two outs and scored when Sanchez slapped a single to left field. Frazier got a good jump on the play and scored easily when left fielder Crisp’s throw to the plate was high and off line.
The White Sox took a 2-0 lead with an unearned run off Tomlin in the seventh. Chicago went ahead 3-0 in the ninth on Omar Narvaez’s RBI single off Zach McAllister.
Before the game, players on both teams stood in front of clubhouse TVs and watched coverage of the tragic death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, killed early Sunday morning in a boating accident.
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, who like Fernandez defected from Cuba, sat quietly at his locker with his face turned from the room.
White Sox: CF Adam Eaton missed his second straight game as he recovers from a violent crash into the padded outfield wall Friday night. Manager Robin Ventura said Eaton is still bothered by back soreness.
Indians: Manager Terry Francona rested shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is in an 0-for-25 slump. He went 0 for 3 and had an error Saturday night.
“He wanted to play,” Francona said. “I thought yesterday it was starting to creep into his defense a little bit. I think just being able to watch for today will be really good for him.”
White Sox: At a loss to explain his struggles since coming to Chicago in June, James Shields is 0-6 in his last 10 starts. The right-hander starts the series opener against Tampa Bay, the team he played for from 2006-12.
Indians: Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber goes for his career-high 19th win as Cleveland begins its final road trip in Detroit. He’s 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA against the Tigers this season.
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