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CLEVELAND (AP) — Philip Humber has gone from perfect to perfectly flawed.
Humber couldn’t get out of the third inning Monday as the Cleveland Indians pounded Chicago’s right-hander, who threw a perfect game on April 21, in an 8-6 win over the White Sox in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
Zach McAllister, recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the game, allowed just two earned runs and six hits in six innings for his first career win.
Humber (1-2) hasn’t been sharp since pitching the 21st perfect game — and one of the most surprising — in major league history last month. Since then, Humber has allowed 20 runs in 13 1-3 innings and gone 0-2 with a no-decision.
“I’m frustrated,” said Humber, tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 2 1-3 innings. “I’m doing my best, it’s just the last two or three times out there, it’s been rough. I’m definitely hoping for better results. I’m doing the best I can to make that happen, but right now it’s kind of a grind.”
Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman drove in three runs each for the AL-Central leading Indians, five games over. 500 for the first time this season. Travis Hafner homered and hit his first triple in nearly five years as Cleveland, coming off a series win over defending AL champion Texas, improved to 7-3 in its last 10.
Alexei Ramirez had three RBIs for the White Sox, who closed within 8-6 in the ninth against Jairo Asencio before Nick Hagadone got three outs for his first career save.
Humber’s masterpiece last month was stunning. There were few signs the 29-year-old, who went 9-9 last season, would deliver a performance worthy of any record books. But he threw the third perfect game in club history in Seattle in just his 30th major league start.
His recent slide, which has come after his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, has been almost as unexpected.
In his last three outings, Humber has given up 21 hits, including five homers, and walked 11.
“Today I did not feel like I had very good stuff at all,” Humber said. “The ball wasn’t coming out of my hand very good. It’s not a health issue or anything like that. I’m not getting down on myself. I don’t have any less confidence than I had coming into the season.
“I know I have what it takes to pitch well. It’s a matter of it to happen. I’ve had a couple of good games, one decent one and two terrible ones.”
The Indians chased him with a five-run fifth.
After Humber allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases, Brantley’s two-run double made it 5-2 and Kotchman, batting just .160, followed by lining a shot into the gap in right-center. Kotchman managed to leg out a two-run double when shortstop Ramirez missed the tag at second.
Humber then walked Jack Hannahan and was pulled by manager Robin Ventura, who brought in Jose Quintana to make his major league debut. Quintana, recalled before the game from Double-A Birmingham, got an out before walking two straight to force in a run to put Cleveland ahead 8-2.
Quintana wound up pitching 5 2-3 shutout innings.
Chicago got within 8-4 in the fourth on an RBI double by Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome’s sacrifice fly.
McAllister, though, buckled down and got through the fifth and sixth without incident to pick up the win and allow manager Manny Acta more rest for his bullpen.
McAllister competed for a job in the starting rotation during spring training before being sent down to the minors. He knew even if he threw a shutout he would be making the trip back down Interstate-71 to Columbus.
“I’ll stay for the second game,” he said with a smile.
Hafner led off the second with his fourth homer, a 403-foot shot into the seats in right. It was Hafner’s 192nd homer, tying him with Al Rosen for eighth place on Cleveland’s career list.
Later, Hafner hit his first triple since May 29, 2007 at Boston — a span of 1,711 at-bats.
“I was thinking double and got forced into a triple,” Hafner joked.
Hafner was barely down the dugout steps from his homer when Carlos Santana followed with a double and moved up on Shin Soo-Choo’s single. Brantley hit an RBI single to give the Indians a 2-1 lead and they pushed across a third run in the inning when Kotchman grounded into a force.
NOTES: Quintana’s outing not only saved Ventura’s bullpen but was the longest by a Chicago reliever since Tom Fordham went that distance on Sept. 5, 1997. … It was the first time the Indians have had a first career win and save in the same game since July 19, 1993, when Albie Lopez won and Jerry Dipoto earned a save. … Acta said Indians OF Grady Sizemore is on schedule to take batting practice when the club returns from its next road trip. Sizemore is on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing back surgery in March. He’s eligible to be activated on June 3.
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