Fausto Carmona figured out the Chicago White Sox just in time to keep the Cleveland Indians in second place.
Carmona allowed four hits over 8 1-3 innings and the Indians beat the White Sox 4-1 on Wednesday night. The win kept Chicago from passing the Indians and moving into second in the AL Central.
"I thought Fausto was magnificent," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He had a good power sinker working for him. Fifteen groundouts and just a fantastic job by him on the mound."
The Indians had 12 hits against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle (10-6), the most he has allowed this season. Buehrle had his streak of consecutive starts allowing three runs or less snapped at 18 games, allowing four runs in 7 1-3 innings.
"I was on a pretty good roll," Buehrle said. "But everything has to come to an end sometime."
Shin-soo Choo had three hits and drove in a run for the Indians, while Carlos Santana singled, doubled and scored a run. Choo is hitting .424 (14 for 33) lifetime against Buehrle.
"We were 3 for 8 with runners in scoring position and we were just glad that we were able to get those clutch hits," Acta said. "That was enough for Fausto the way he was throwing the ball."
Alexei Ramirez homered for the White Sox. Chicago's Gordon Beckham grounded out with two runners on to end the game.
The Indians moved within two games of first-place Detroit, which lost 6-5 to Minnesota. Chicago remained 3½ games behind the Tigers.
The Indians won for just the second time in nine games against the White Sox this season.
"We battled Buehrle the whole night and fortunately we got those clutch hits," Acta said.
Chris Perez got the last two outs for his 26th save.
"At this time we're just trying to get wins," Perez said. "We're trying to keep the mindset that we really don't care what happened yesterday, we're looking at today's game.
"Buehrle's had our number for a couple years since I've been here and he's been on a pretty good roll since the All-Star break so we knew we'd be in for a little battle. Fausto pitched a hell of a game for us, especially when we needed it short in the bullpen like we were tonight."
Carmona didn't fare as well against the White Sox earlier this season, allowing 18 earned runs over eight innings in two earlier starts.
"As soon as I got up today I didn't think about what happened in the past," Carmona said through an interpreter. "I didn't think about who I was going to face, I just knew I'd go out there and do my job."
On Wednesday, he resembled the pitcher who had won all seven of his career starts against the White Sox coming into this year.
"(Carmona) was outstanding today," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He threw the ball pretty well. His sinker was good. This kid's got good enough stuff when he's on, it's hard to get good at-bats against him."
Carmona's outing was a godsend for Cleveland, which had eight relievers throw 8 2-3 innings in Tuesday's 8-7, 14-inning loss.
"It was very important, especially given that the bullpen needed rest," Carmona said. "(I) was just pitching (my) game and how long it took, it didn't matter."
Carmona retired 11 straight hitters until Adam Dunn singled to left against an exaggerated shift with one out in the seventh. Beckham walked after Dunn's hit to give Chicago two baserunners for just the second time in the game. Carmona got Brent Morel to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Carmona was pulled after walking Carlos Quentin with one out in the ninth and matched his season high with 118 pitches.
"We tried to give him a chance (for a complete game)," Acta said. "He was still throwing 94 mph with good life on his pitches. But we really didn't want to give him a chance to get into any kind of trouble or bring in Perez without any kind of breathing room."
Buehrle allowed at least one runner in each of the first five innings, but Cleveland bounced into two double plays and left six on base.
"Your goal is to go out there and throw a quality start," Buehrle said. "Three runs, four runs, I think we still would have lost. You have to tip your cap to Carmona. His ball was moving all over the place."
The Indians got the lead in the sixth when Santana doubled and scored on Kosuke Fukudome's single to center.
The Indians upped the lead to three runs and snapped Buehrle's streak with a two-run seventh. Choo stroked an RBI single and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Buehrle's streak tied Frank Smith's 1909 franchise record.
The Indians scored the game's first run in the second when Jason Donald doubled and scored on Jack Hannahan's single.
The White Sox tied it in the second on Ramirez's leadoff homer.
With the regular season down to its final six weeks, both Cleveland and Chicago are faced with the task of playing while also wondering about Detroit.
"I watch the scoreboard all year long," Buehrle said. "Not just (Detroit), but everybody. You're looking up there and obviously rooting against the teams you need to lose."
Acta said his team needs to keep its focus on the game at hand.
"I know that every game means a lot because we're playing the White Sox and we're going to play Detroit but there are so many games left that if we go day-by-day paying attention to that I'm going to get a heart attack," Acta said.
NOTES: The White Sox have vacillated between a five- and six-man rotation for most of the season, but Guillen said rookie starter Zach Stewart will pitch out of the bullpen for the next few days, leaving the team with five starters for the time being. Guillen said he's unsure when Stewart will start again. Indians rookie 2B Jason Kipnis missed his third straight game because of soreness in his right side. Acta said Kipnis took "heavy batting practice" on Wednesday and will return to the lineup Thursday. .. The Indians and White Sox play the series finale on Thursday. Cleveland's Justin Masterson has a 1.99 ERA over his last 11 appearances, while Chicago's Phil Humber is 0-4 with a 7.52 ERA over his last five starts. Chicago 1B Paul Konerko had a 12-game hitting streak snapped. Stewart made his first career relief appearance after five starts and struck out a career-best five in 1 2-3 innings.