CHICAGO -- The Indians gave a potent White Sox offense an extra out, and starter Josh Tomlin paid the price.
Lonnie Chisenhall's third-inning error paved the way for a three-run homer by Dayan Viciedo, and Tomlin couldn't make it out of the fifth as the Tribe dropped the series opener to the White Sox, 6-2, on Monday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. It was Chisenhall's third error in three games.
"He's getting in-between hops," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Sometimes the ball, you know, you get on your heels and the second hop plays you a little bit instead of putting yourself in a position where you come get it."
The bad defense led to three unearned runs. With two outs in the third, Chisenhall stabbed at Marcus Semien's grounder but couldn't come up with it. Conor Gillaspie followed with a single, and Viciedo blasted a 1-2 hanging curve to left for a three-run homer. Both hits came with two strikes.
"That's on me. I need to do a better job of picking Lonnie up there," said Tomlin, who has allowed a homer in each of his five starts. "It took a tough hop and I need to come back and make a better pitch to Viciedo right there. … He hit a hanging a curveball. I probably tried to do too much with it. I tried to get it down in the dirt and it slung off a little bit and just kind of cast it and it stayed up in the zone for too long."
The Indians appeared to be turning the corner on their defensive woes during a 5-2 run entering Monday's holiday matinee. Chisenhall's error, on the other hand, was a return to the Tribe's main bugaboo. Entering play Monday, Cleveland had the worst fielding percentage (.973) and most errors (52) in baseball.
"I hear about it, but we just keep working," Francona said of his team's defensive struggles. "Lonnie's our hardest worker, so we keep working. When you make an error, you can't go back and take it away. And we have guys that I think have the ability to be good fielders, so we just keep working."
Francona can only hope the loss didn't include any further damage. Nick Swisher hurt his left knee running out a grounder in the sixth inning and was later lifted for pinch-hitter David Murphy in the eighth inning. Swisher, who has dealt with right knee issues throughout the season, said a team doctor looked at his left knee and concluded there was no structural damage, and that he'll know more Tuesday. As for his decision to stay in the game for two more innings following the injury?
"Well, you know, these guys are fighting and I want to be out there fighting with the guys, you know?" Swisher said. "I mean, everybody's banged up right now, so just going to have to wait till tomorrow to find out what's going on."
Designated hitter Carlos Santana, meanwhile, was scratched approximately 20 minutes before first pitch because he was feeling sick. Santana took a foul tip off the mask on Sunday in Baltimore, so the team isn't sure if Santana was simply under the weather or was dealing with concussion-like symptoms. That forced the Tribe to be cautious and send Santana back to the hotel. He'll be evaluated Tuesday.
The Tribe didn't have a ton of scoring chances against White Sox starter Jose Quintana. Cleveland got on the board first in the third, but could have had more. Chisenhall led off with a four-pitch walk and moved to second on Justin Sellers' single. Michael Bourn and Mike Aviles followed with strikeouts before Michael Brantley came through with a two-out RBI single. Asdrubal Cabrera then struck out swinging to end the inning.
Ryan Raburn cut Chicago's lead to one with a one-out RBI single to right in the sixth that scored Brantley, who led off with a walk and stole second. Raburn tried to stretch for a double but was thrown out by Moises Sierra, who slid to stop the ball and fired a strike to second. Francona challenged the call, which stood upon review.
"Again, when I'm out there, I only can I see in real time," Francona said. "But I'm still surprised they didn't overturn it. Looked like he was safe. I'm surprised."
It appeared from replays Alexei Ramirez may have missed the tag on Raburn, and instead of another run-scoring opportunity with one out, the Tribe faced two outs and nobody on, and Swisher bounced out to end the inning.
"Yeah, he didn't touch me up top, and I still think I got my hand in," Raburn said. "Basically, my leg slid into him, but it's probably one of those calls where they weren't sure, and tough to overturn."
The White Sox then responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to push their lead to 5-2. Gillaspie doubled and Viciedo singled to lead off the inning, chasing Tomlin. After Josh Outman struck out Adam Dunn, RBI singles by Ramirez and Alejandro De Aza off Bryan Shaw closed the book on Tomlin, who allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits with eight strikeouts and one walk in five-plus innings. It was the first time Tomlin failed to record a quality start this season.
Gillapsie made it 6-2 with a one-out RBI double in the seventh. It was his third double and fourth hit of the day, which tied a career high.
"Truthfully, it was just one of those days," Gillaspie said. A couple of times they threw it right in the spot I was looking and it's just the way it goes. ... It was nice and warm and humid. It was a good day to play."
The Indians strung together consecutive hits just once, in the eighth inning. Aviles and Brantley singled with one out, Cabrera struck out swinging an Raburn beat out an infield single with two outs to load the bases. Murphy then struck out looking on a borderline call he didn't agree with. All told the Tribe went 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position, but for the most part Quintana and Co. limited the damage by giving up eight hits, all singles.
"We didn't have a ton of hits, but obviously that play was big," Francona said of the call he challenged. "It would have been runner on second and down one instead of nobody on and two out. But some days you have to get two-out hits when you're not stringing a bunch together, and we weren't able to do that."
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.