The Cleveland Indians were hoping Josh Tomlin's return would provide a spark to their fading playoff hopes.
They need him to do it again when he goes for the longest single-season winning streak of his career Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians' chances of reaching the postseason dimmed further after losing 7-4 at Chicago on Tuesday after opening this three-game series with a 3-2 victory a day earlier.
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Cleveland (67-70) is six games back of Texas for the AL's second wild-card spot, and giving the ball to Tomlin (4-1, 2.55 ERA) could at least help the Indians to a fourth win in six games.
The right-hander lost his first start after coming back from shoulder surgery but has won four straight since. He had a career-high six-game winning streak over seven starts bridging 2010 and '11.
More importantly, three of Tomlin's victories have come after Cleveland defeats, including a four-hitter in Friday's 8-1 win at Detroit after his scheduled start came a day early to replace injured ace Corey Kluber.
"We've known all year that we had a chance to get some serious help down the stretch from Josh," manager Terry Francona said. "We wanted to be as patient as possible, because we knew if we let him get ready, he could do this for us."
Tomlin, though, is 0-2 with a 4.24 ERA in four starts against Chicago (66-71).
The White Sox, seven games back of the Rangers, have won five of six behind the rotation's 2.55 ERA after Carlos Rodon allowed one run in seven innings Tuesday.
Chicago should like its chances of getting another strong effort with Jeff Samardzija (9-11, 4.87) taking the mound since he's allowed one run in 14 innings while winning both starts against the Indians this year.
Samardzija wasn't that sharp in a 6-4 win at Minnesota on Thursday. He served up a grand slam while walking a season-high four in 6 1-3 innings, ending a career-worst six-start losing streak.
"Usually when you're in the situation I've been in here the last month, that next turning point doesn't come easy," Samardzija said. "Very rarely do you come out and go eight innings shutout and get the win 10-nothing. Usually you've got to kick that by going out and working hard, and just trusting your stuff and battling."
Now Samardzija will try to snap the longest home slide of his career. He's compiled a 9.00 ERA and allowed nine homers while losing five consecutive games at U.S. Cellular Field.
Jose Abreu is hitting .417 with two homers, five RBIs and seven runs over the last six games. He came a triple short of the cycle while going 3 for 4 with two RBIs on Tuesday.
Abreu, who has never faced Tomlin, is batting .367 in his last 13 home matchups with Cleveland.