MATT CARLSON, Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Even though Ryan Raburn hasn’t played a lot lately, he certainly didn’t look rusty at the plate Thursday night.
Many of the Cleveland Indians’ other hitters were in a groove, too.
Raburn went 3 for 3 with a homer and five RBIs, and Cleveland routed the Chicago White Sox 14-3 to remain to 1 1-2 games out of the second AL wild-card spot.
Raburn, who has been hampered by nagging right calf and left heel injuries, played in just his third game since Aug. 18. Besides his 16th homer, the right-handed hitting outfielder doubled and scored two runs.
“We said coming into the series that Raburn would play a big part because we’re going to face three lefties,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He not only gets his, but he gives us a lot of production for a guy that plays maybe half the year or not even that.”
Raburn, who is 29 for 85 against left-handed pitching, has appeared in 73 of 146 games this season.
In his career, Raburn has hit 17 of his 70 homers and driven in 66 of his 267 RBIs against the White Sox.
“He’s maintained his swing all year,” Francona said. “It’s been pretty rare when he did not have his timing or not have his balance.
“He’s been really consistent with it, and as a bench player, that’s not the easiest thing to do.”
The Indians blew the game open with a seven-run, rain-delayed fifth inning, when their first nine batters reached base. Charlie Leesman, who relieved Chicago starter John Danks (4-13), faced seven hitters, all of whom scored.
Nick Swisher had a solo homer and three RBIs, and Asdrubal Cabrera added a solo shot to support starter Corey Kluber (9-5), who won his second straight start after missing a month with right middle finger sprain. The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits in five innings.
“We knew we were going to have to bring some energy today,” Swisher said. “We just kind of started it off in the first inning and just continued to keep it going.
“We’re trying to get into that playoff regardless of however we do it, whether it’s wild card or division. We’re going to keep fighting until the last out.”
Relievers Josh Tomlin, Vinnie Pestano and Preston Guilmet worked the next four innings, allowing one unearned run.
Danks lasted four innings and allowed seven runs, nine hits and three walks in his third straight loss. In his last three outings, the left-hander has given up 17 runs in 14 1-3 innings.
“If I had a reason I would’ve fixed it,” Danks said. “I just couldn’t do what I wanted to do.
“Nothing worked. I threw the ball over where I wasn’t supposed to throw it. It’s embarrassing. This is supposed to be the major leagues and I went out there and pitched like that.”
Chicago reliever Dylan Axelrod pitched five innings to close the game, allowing no runs and four hits.
Paul Konerko hit a solo homer for the White Sox, who are in last place in the AL Central and have lost 11 of 13.
Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis went 2 for 2 with two RBIs as the Indians began a seven-game trip with a victory that improved them to 78-68. Tampa Bay, at 79-66, is in the second wild-card slot.
Cleveland closed within six games of idle Detroit in the AL Central.
Swisher, who sat out Wednesday’s loss to Kansas City, hit his 18th homer with one out to open the scoring. After Kipnis singled and Carlos Santana walked, Raburn’s line shot to left barely cleared the fence for his 16th homer that made it 4-0.
After Kipnis drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth to extend Cleveland’s lead to 7-2, the Indians ran away with seven runs in the fifth.
NOTES: Injured Indians ace Justin Masterson (14-10) may have a chance to rejoin the team before the season ends, according to Francona. The right-hander, who leads Cleveland in wins, left a Sept. 2 game against Baltimore in the second inning with a strained left oblique muscle. He played catch up to 90 feet on Wednesday. “He had no issues and we’ll just continue that progression,” Francona said. “He did well. It’s going to depend on how quickly he comes back.” … Swisher and Cabrera were back in the starting lineup after being held out Wednesday. Cabrera entered Thursday’s game in a 3-for-27 slump. … White Sox rookie INF Marcus Semien got his fourth career start and second straight at 3B after Conor Gillaspie made three errors on Tuesday. Semien doubled for his first extra-base hit and scored his first run. … Cleveland RHP Danny Salazar (1-2) is scheduled to face Chicago LHP Hector Santiago (4-8) in the second game of the four-game series on Friday.
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