White Sox left-hander leads Chicago to victory over Indians

Andy Call

The Indians’ dreams of an undefeated season came crashing down Thursday afternoon during a 2-1 loss to Chicago at Progressive Park.

OK, we’re just kidding. Expectations for this team are certainly high, but nobody really expected 162-0.

“We lost a game,” first baseman Ryan Garko said. “Hang with us.”

The Indians did take the first two games of their season-opening series before running into a 22-year-old buzzsaw named John Danks.

The Chicago left-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and a shutout into the seventh. He made four starts against the Indians last summer during his rookie season and did not fare nearly as well (1-2, 5.49 ERA).

“His cutter was better than last year, and he threw strikes with all his pitches,” Garko said.

“He showed a lot of confidence in his fastball and in the way he attacked hitters,” Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach said.

Casey Blake broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single up the middle in the sixth. Blake was sacrificed to second by Shoppach, then stranded via two groundouts.

The Indians appeared to be constructing a rally against Danks in the seventh. Travis Hafner walked and scored the tying run when Garko’s long drive to the gap just eluded the outstretched arm of White Sox right fielder Jeremaine Dye. When Dye collided with Nick Swisher, causing Swisher to drop Franklin Gutierrez’s pop fly, runners were at second and third with one out.

Asdrubal Cabrera’s sharp grounder deflected off White Sox third baseman Joe Crede and directly to shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who fired over to first. Octavio Dotel then replaced Danks and got Blake to fly out.

Danks, Dotel, Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks retired the last eight Indians batters.

“We had some decent swings early but didn’t have much to show for it,” Manager Eric Wedge said. “Then we fell off from there.”

Danks was a first-round draft pick and former No. 1 prospect in the Texas organization before being traded to Chicago for Brandon McCarthy before last season. He was 6-13, 5.50 in 2007 and did not win in his last seven starts.

“He pitched the way he wanted to pitch against us, and we didn’t make adjustments as the game wore on,” Wedge said.

Jake Westbrook matched Danks zero-for-zero until serving up a solo home run to Juan Uribe in the sixth inning. Crede led off the eighth with another homer, putting the White Sox ahead for good.

“I threw Uribe a sinker down-and-in when I was trying to go away with it,” Westbrook said. “That’s a good hitter’s pitch for Uribe. I was 2-0 to Crede and threw it middle-middle. He did what he’s supposed to do with it.”

Westbrook, by and large, picked up where he had left off at the end of spring training. He pitched 18 scoreless innings in Florida.

“Jake did everything he could to give us a chance to win the ballgame,” Wedge said. “We just couldn’t get anything going.”

The Indians did get the season going by taking 2 of 3 from the White Sox. A six-game west coast trip begins tonight in Oakland.

“We won the series,” Westbrook said. “That’s what we strive to do. So, we just move on.”

Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail