CLEVELAND — Cleveland manager Terry Francona put up a pinch-hitter in the middle of an at-bat and the strategy paid off when Tyler Naquin lofted a game-ending sacrifice fly in the ninth inning that lifted the Indians over the Chicago White Sox 5-4 Thursday night.
The AL Central-leading Indians scored a single run in each of the last five innings to overtake Chicago. Cleveland improved to 6-2 on an 11-game homestand.
Abraham Almonte doubled to begin ninth off Jacob Turner (1-2). With Roberto Perez batting, a passed ball by Dioner Navarro moved Almonte to third.
Francona then sent Naquin to the plate with a 1-0 count. The rookie drove the first pitch he saw to center field, deep enough that Adam Eaton couldn’t prevent Almonte from scoring.
Andrew Miller (7-1) earned the win with one inning of scoreless relief.
The Indians activated right-hander Danny Salazar from the 15-day disabled list before the game, but he lasted just one inning in the shortest start of his career.
Salazar, who had been sidelined because of inflammation in his pitching elbow, walked three to load the bases with one out. Justin Morneau hit a three-run double, and Salazar got the next two batters and was pulled.
Rajai Davis hit an RBI double in the seventh off Chris Beck to pull Cleveland with 4-3. The Indians tied it in the eighth on an RBI single by Jose Ramirez against Nate Jones.
White Sox starter Carlos Rodon gave up two runs in six innings.