Tribal War Path

The Cleveland Indians finished August with a big rally to extend their season-long winning streak.

Now they look to carry that momentum into the final month of the season, as the division-leading Indians continue a three-game series with the last-place Chicago White Sox on Saturday.

Cleveland (77-57) begins September with a season-high 5 1/2-game lead in the AL Central over the second-place Detroit Tigers. The Indians closed August by winning seven straight after opening their series against the White Sox (57-78) with a come-from-behind 8-5 victory on Friday.

Cleveland rallied from a 5-0 deficit, scoring two runs in the sixth inning before a six-run eighth inning. Kenny Lofton walked with the bases loaded to tie the game and Casey Blake capped off the outburst with a double to drive in three runs. All six runs in the eighth came with two outs.

"We kept scraping, clawing and scratching," Blake said, "and we got a little help."

With Friday's win, the Indians finished August with a 17-11 record. It was their fewest wins this month since 2004 when they went 14-15, but they still begin September in first place in the division for the first time since they won the AL Central in 2001.

The Indians haven't won eight straight since a nine-game winning streak from June 10-19, 2005.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Cleveland -160 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -160 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

With Friday's loss, the White Sox finished with their worst August in franchise history (9-20). They also have lost four straight overall, and 10 straight road games for their longest single-season road losing streak since dropping 10 straight from July 14-29, 1969.

They haven't lost 11 straight road games since a 12-game slide from June 10-July 6, 1962.

Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game that he wasn't going to stay quiet anymore while his team continues to struggle. Only the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a worse record.

"I got this job because of who I am and not because of what people want me to be," the manager said. "Ozzie has to be Ozzie. I changed for three months because we were not playing well and I tried to protect people to be nice.

"I really regret the way I was for three months. I really regret who I was for three months."

Javier Vazquez (11-7, 3.89 ERA) will take the mound for the White Sox on Saturday. He struggled against Boston on Sunday, allowing a season-high seven runs and six hits in six innings of an 11-1 loss. Vazquez tied a season-high with 10 strikeouts, but also gave up three homers.

The right-hander is 4-2 with a 4.05 ERA in nine career starts against the Indians. This is his second start against them this season after he allowed two runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 6-4 win on April 13.

Paul Byrd (13-5, 4.43) counters for Cleveland. Byrd has won seven of his last nine decisions, and is 3-0 with a 3.63 ERA over his last three starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in six innings on Monday in an 8-3 win over Minnesota.

"He's had a very consistent year for us," manager Eric Wedge told the Indians' official Web site. "He understands he just has to give us a chance to win the ballgame."

Although he's 7-3 at home this season, Byrd has struggled at Jacobs Field with a 6.05 ERA over 13 starts there. He has allowed 13 of his 21 homers at home.

The right-hander is 6-2 with a 4.72 ERA in 11 starts against the White Sox. He's 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against them this season - both at home.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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