Justin Masterson, Indians move closer to AL Central lead

CHICAGO -- Justin Masterson and the Cleveland Indians picked up a key game against another AL Central contender and gained some momentum for their key series at division-leading Detroit.

Not a bad day, at all.

Masterson pitched six effective innings, Kosuke Fukudome had a tiebreaking RBI triple and the Indians inched closer to the top of the division with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.

Matt LaPorta hit a two-run homer for Cleveland, which pulled within 1 1-2 games of idle Detroit. The Tribe opens a three-game series against the Tigers on Friday.

"It was good," Masterson said. "It was a much needed series. We wanted to take this final game. That's kind of been our motto to try and win each series as we go out."

Paul Konerko homered for the White Sox, which lost starter Phil Humber on a scary play in the second inning. Konerko, Adam Dunn and Omar Vizquel each had two hits, and Tyler Flowers singled in a run.

Masterson (10-7) allowed two runs and seven hits, struck out two and walked three. The 6-foot-6 right-hander improved to 2-2 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts against the White Sox this season.

"Masterson had good stuff," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He just battled a little bit through the six innings and got his pitch count up. But his stuff was so good that still whenever he got in trouble he could get away with it, made some pitches and gave us six solid innings. After that our bullpen again was huge."

Rafael Perez and Joe Smith combined to finish the seventh, Vinnie Pestano got out of a jam in the eighth and Chris Perez finished for his 27th save in 30 chances.

Humber was struck in the face by Fukudome's comebacker with one out in the second inning. He fell to the ground as the ball bounded back to catcher Flowers.

"I saw it, but a little too late though," Humber said. "I'm not as quick as I thought."

Humber stood up immediately after the play ended and appeared to be alert as the club's medical staff checked on him, but was removed after a short delay. He lobbied to remain in the game.

"When you get hit like that in that spot, it was unfair to leave him in there to try to pitch," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think we did the right thing to get him out of there."

Humber was struck above the right eye and was removed as a precautionary measure. He will evaluated again on Friday, when it likely will be determined if he can make his next start.

"As of right now, I feel good," Humber said. "Just got a little pop knot on my forehead. Other than that, I feel very fortunate."

The Indians won the last two games of the three-game series against the White Sox after losing seven of their first eight games against Chicago this season.

"They play good baseball against us," Acta said. "They hit us around pretty good at the beginning of the year and they have played their best baseball against us."

Fukudome played a key role in Cleveland's decisive rally in the sixth. After Shin-Soo Choo led off with an infield single, Fukudome tripled into the right-field corner against Will Ohman (0-3) to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.

Fukudome, acquired in a July trade with the crosstown Cubs, came home later in the inning when Asdrubal Cabrera drew a two-out walk against Jason Frasor on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded.

"I think I'm definitely getting used to it (playing for Cleveland) and also I have at-bats when the team has a chance to score so I just try to be aggressive," Fukudome said through an interpreter.

The White Sox loaded the bases with two out in the eighth, but Pestano struck out Gordon Beckham to end the inning. Beckham is 3 for 24 over his last six games, dropping his average to .238.

It was an ugly night for Beckham, who bounced into a fielder's choice with a runner on to end the second, lined softly to the pitcher with two on to end the fourth and struck out looking with two on to end the sixth.

"I am worried about him because he is chasing a lot of pitches," Guillen said. "When you're a hitter and you're (chasing) bad pitches, you're going to put yourself in the hole. I know it's not easy. I played this game before. I went through it. I was swinging at everything in my career as a player. But you have to lay off the high fastball."

Konerko went deep in the third to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Konerko's 28th homer was just the sixth off Masterson in 173 innings this season.

LaPorta responded with a two-run drive on an 0-2 pitch from rookie Zach Stewart with two out in the fourth.

Flowers' RBI single in the fourth tied it at 2. He also had three walks and has reached base 11 times in over his last four starts in place of injured catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

Dunn singled twice for his first two-hit game since July 22. Dunn is hitting .333 in 36 at-bats against the Indians this season. He's hitting .149 against everybody else.

The Indians can regain first place with a good series this weekend. Masterson is grateful they won't have to watch the out-of-town scoreboard.

"We can't worry about who else is losing or whatever," Masterson said. "If we take care of what we can, win our games as we go out, that's going to speak for itself. We don't have to worry about anyone else, just go out and beat our opponent."

Game notes
Indians rookie Jason Kipnis was expected to return to the lineup after missing three games with right side soreness, but was a late scratch because of tightness in his right hamstring. He was replaced at second base by Jason Donald. ... Josh Tomlin will start Friday against Detroit's Max Scherzer. Tomlin has gone at least five innings in each of his first 36 career starts, the only big league pitcher to do that since 1919. ... The White Sox next play a three-game weekend series against AL West-leading Texas. Matt Harrison will face Chicago's Jake Peavy in the opener. . Konerko's home run was the 393rd of his career, tying Jim Edmonds for 52nd place. ... OF Austin Kearns officially cleared waivers and was released outright by the Indians.