CHICAGO -- Fausto Carmona had pitched so badly against the White Sox this season that he went from the Indians' Opening Day starter against Chicago to being skipped over in the rotation when the White Sox traveled to Cleveland in July.
With Carmona having pitched well since coming off the disabled list on July 18, though, Indians manager Manny Acta decided to give the right-hander a shot to redeem himself on Wednesday night.
The rejuvenated pitcher did just that as the Indians beat the White Sox for just the third time in their last 16 meetings with a 4-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. The win snapped the Indians' five-game losing streak against their divisional rivals and pulled them to within two games of the division-leading Tigers, while also fighting off the White Sox attempt to overtake the Tribe in the standings.
Carmona was battered around for 10 runs in three innings on Opening Day and didn't fare much better on May 19 when he allowed eight more runs in five innings in Chicago and said after the game that the White Sox were "killing" him this year. The next time the Indians faced the White Sox from July 22-24, Acta moved some guys around after one of the three games was rained out to avoid using Carmona against the White Sox.
On Wednesday though, Carmona stifled them, looking more like the pitcher who had won seven straight starts against the White Sox while posting a 2.82 prior to the 2011 season. He allowed just one run -- coming on a second-inning Alexei Ramirez home run -- over 8 1/3 innings for his fifth quality start in six outings since returning from a strained right quadriceps on July 18.
"There was a time that we kind of skipped him, moved him around, so he didn't have to face them," Acta admitted after Wednesday's victory. "But he's been throwing the ball well, and this time around, we felt confident enough that he could come over here and give us a good outing."
"As soon as I got up today, I didn't think about what happened in the past," said Carmona, through translator Francisco Morales, the Indians' bullpen catcher. "I didn't think about who I was going to face. I just knew I had to go out there and do my job. What happened, happened, and it was in the past. So I got up today like it was a new day."
And his turnaround couldn't have come at a better time for the Indians.
Cleveland entered the night in jeopardy of falling behind the third-place White Sox in the American League Central with a loss after a 14-inning defeat on Tuesday night that taxed the bullpen. Carmona not only prevented the Tribe from falling into third place, but he saved the bullpen by coming within two outs of a complete game.
With the Indians leading, 4-1, in the seventh, Carmona worked his way out of one of the few White Sox threats by getting Brent Morel to ground into an inning-ending double play on the fourth pitch of an at-bat during which Carmona threw his sinker exclusively.
"Being on the bench, you don't get to see too much," said Buehrle, who saw his 18-start streak of allowing three or fewer runs come to an end. "But being on the bench, you always know when a guy is throwing 95 [mph] and his ball is sinking like crazy, he's on. But we didn't do too much against him, so you tip your cap."
Despite having at least one hit in each of the first eight innings, the Indians found themselves tied at 1 through the first five frames before finally starting to turn their hits into runs against the White Sox southpaw.
Following a Carlos Santana double, Kosuke Fukudome put the Indians ahead for good with an RBI single in the sixth. The Indians added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on Shin-Soo Choo's RBI single and Asdrubal Cabrera's sacrifice fly.
"We got enough hits today -- going 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position -- and we were just glad we were able to get those clutch hits," Acta said. "I mean, that was enough for Fausto the way he was throwing the ball. When you go up against Buehrle, you have to battle every game, because he just does a terrific job of stopping the running game and all that out there."
With the Indians pushing the lead to 4-1 on Cabrera's sacrifice fly, it gave Carmona a little more room for error, but Acta called on closer Chris Perez after Carmona issued a one-out walk to Carlos Quentin in the ninth. Perez brought the tying run to the plate by walking Adam Dunn with two outs, but he nailed down his 26th save of the season when he retired Gordon Beckham on a groundout.
"It's a huge win for us," Perez said. "Obviously, Detroit lost so we gained some ground, and we keep these guys back a little bit further. So it's a good win."
"I know that every game means a lot because we're playing the White Sox," Acta said, "but there's so many games left that if we're going to go day by day paying attention to that, I'm going to get a heart attack. You can't get away from it, because obviously, that's a fun part of it, but it's just good to win a ballgame."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.