CHICAGO (AP) — Josh Naylor snapped a ninth-inning tie with a pinch-hit single, and the streaking Cleveland Guardians beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4 on Saturday in the opener of a split doubleheader.
Steven Kwan had three hits and José Ramírez drove in two runs with a pair of sacrifice flies as Cleveland earned its fifth straight win. Amed Rosario had two hits and two RBIs.
The Guardians improved to 8-9 in games during their major league-high nine doubleheaders. They began the day just 1 1/2 games back of Minnesota for the AL Central lead.
Rookie Nolan Jones doubled to begin the ninth and Naylor, batting for catcher Austin Hedges, gave Cleveland a 5-4 lead when he singled to center against All-Star closer Liam Hendriks (1-3). Kwan singled in pinch-runner Alex Call and scored on Ramírez's flyball.
Naylor is batting .400 (14 for 35) with three homers and 16 RBIs against Chicago this year.
Trevor Stephan (4-3) got four outs for the win, and Emmanuel Clase pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.
Cleveland nearly wasted another solid effort by Triston McKenzie, who allowed one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. The wiry right-hander had a scoreless streak of 24 2/3 innings before Yasmani Grandal's two-out RBI single in the fourth.
McKenzie was in line for his first win against Chicago before Cleveland's bullpen faltered. He was 0-2 with an 8.63 ERA in seven career appearances against the White Sox coming into the day.
Grandal had three of Chicago's 11 hits in his second game back after being sidelined by lower back spasms. Johnny Cueto was charged with four runs, three earned, and eight hits in seven innings.
Cleveland jumped in front with four runs in the fifth. Kwan doubled in Jones, Rosario singled in two more runs and Ramírez made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly.
The rally started when Cueto issued a leadoff walk to Jones and hit No. 8 batter Hedges with a pitch. A hustling Rosario set up the final run when he went to second on Gavin Sheets' throw to the plate and advanced to third when it got away from catcher Seby Zavala for an error on the right fielder.
Eli Morgan replaced McKenzie and struck out Sheets for the final out in the sixth, stranding runners on first and second. But the White Sox pushed across three runs with two out in the seventh.
Josh Harrison and Yoán Moncada hit consecutive RBI doubles. Morgan then was replaced by Stephan, who yielded a tying single to Andrew Vaughn.
The White Sox had a chance for more, but Sheets left the bases loaded when he struck out swinging for the final out.
Ramírez has driven in at least one run in five straight games. His two sacrifice flies gave Cleveland 35 this season, tops in the AL and matching its 35 sacrifice flies from all of last season.
Left-hander Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 4.24 ERA) starts for Cleveland in the second game, and right-hander Lance Lynn (1-3, 7.50 ERA) takes the mound for Chicago. Lynn is 0-2 with a 12.21 ERA in his last three starts. Guardians right-hander Shane Bieber (4-5, 3.24 ERA) and White Sox righty Dylan Cease (9-4, 2.15 ERA) meet in the series finale Sunday.
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