CHICAGO -- The Indians put together a three-run fifth against White Sox ace Chris Sale, making it look like anybody's game Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. The Indians lost control of the game after that, as Tribe arms lost the strike zone, leading to a 9-6 loss to Chicago.
Cleveland pitching issued nine walks -- the most free passes the Indians have doled out since April 16, 2013, against the Red Sox, when they also surrendered nine.
"We got that game tied and just again, just wanted to try -- that's a big inning -- when you score and tie up, you've got to go back out and kind of take charge of the game and ... they just kept scoring every inning," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Indeed, Chicago scored in six consecutive innings, including a trio of two-run innings in the third, fifth and sixth. The fifth was the most painful for the Indians, as the Tribe allowed a pair of runs while giving up just one hit but walking four.
The Indians charged back from a 3-0 deficit in the fifth, opening the inning with four straight hits, highlighted by Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run double and Nick Swisher's run-scoring single, to tie the game at 3.
In the bottom half, starter Carlos Carrasco started the inning with walks to Adam Eaton and Marcus Semien. Conor Gillaspie drove home Eaton with a single to right. Carrasco then struck out Jose Abreu and was pulled after 86 pitches in favor of lefty Marc Rzepczynski.
"Early in the game, I thought his tempo was good," Francona said of Carrasco, who allowed five earned runs and walked three while striking out five in his 4 2/3 innings of work. "And then I thought Carlos in that fifth kind of slowed down his tempo. You could tell he was kind of fighting his mechanics, and that's when we went to Zep [Rzepczynski] to try to snuff that out.
"We couldn't put up a zero the rest of the way."
Rzepczynski issued a four-pitch walk to Adam Dunn to load the bases and then got ahead, 0-2, on Dayan Viciedo but lost him, throwing four straight balls to force home a run and extend the Sox lead to 5-3. He said he was trying to overthrow his breaking pitches, causing him to lose command.
"The slider was too hard. I was getting around it. For me, I can usually throw it for strikes. I went and looked back, I was 87-88 with it. I'm better at 84 with it, because I can control more and it breaks more in the zone," Rzepczynski said. "Then falling behind Dunn, 3-0, tried to throw a good sinker, just missed down. Last time I faced, him I fell behind 3-0 and he swung, so I wasn't just trying to lay it in there. I just missed with that.
"And anytime you go 0-2 to a guy, you can't walk him, either. For me, I've been throwing the ball well. It's just one of those games. I'll be right back out there tomorrow and go back to doing what I was doing."
The Indians' run of success against Chris Sale came to an end, as the left-hander got the win with five innings of three-run ball. Sale lost all four starts to the Indians last season, posting an 8.61 ERA over four starts.
"Sale's a really good pitcher," Francona said. "And we did a pretty good job to fight back in that game. It's just hard to keep coming back. We've got to put up a zero at some point."
Said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his team's relentless offense: "These guys, they just kind of have some jump when they come out. They just feel like they're going to score. With the way the game was going, Sale probably earned one of these after last year. But offensively, we just feel like we're going to get a chance. That's indicative of when Eaton, with two outs, gets on and just kind of makes it happen.
Ventura was referring to Eaton dropping down a perfect drag bunt with two outs in the sixth. Semien followed with a bloop single to right, and both runners came home on Gillaspie's double to left. Gillaspie had a career-high four RBIs.
The night of walks only continued for Cleveland. Blake Wood walked four in the eighth, including Dunn with the bases loaded to give Chicago its ninth and final run. The bullpen has now allowed six runs in 7 2/3 innings through the first two games of the series
"A lot of command problems tonight," said Francona of Wood. "Arm is good. It's nice to see him throw back-to-back days and throw the ball like he was. He just had a hard time commanding it."
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.