Josh Naylor, Guardians win 5th in row, beat White Sox in Game 1

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CHICAGO — Josh Naylor snapped a ninth-inning tie with a pinch-hit single, and the streaking Cleveland Guardians beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4 in the opener of a split doubleheader.

Steven Kwan had three hits and Jose Ramirez drove in two runs with a pair of sacrifice flies as Cleveland matched a season high with its fifth straight win. Amed Rosario had two hits and two RBIs.

The Guardians improved to 8-9 in games during their major league-high nine doubleheaders. They began the day just 1 1/2 games back of Minnesota for the AL Central lead.

Rookie Nolan Jones doubled to begin the ninth and Naylor, batting for catcher Austin Hedges, gave Cleveland a 5-4 lead when he singled to center against All-Star closer Liam Hendriks (1-3). Kwan singled in pinch-runner Alex Call and scored on Ramirez’s flyball.

“Nobody has to do more than they need to. Everybody kind of does their job, does their role,” Kwan said. “Obviously Nolan leads off, has a great at-bat and gives us a chance. It’s just nice to be able to rely on guys and not feel like you got to do everything on your own.”

Naylor is batting .400 (14 for 35) with three homers and 16 RBIs against Chicago this year.

“We’re never scared to give up runs or be in a tie game going into a late ballgame because we know that we have the confidence as a team to string together some hits and put some runs on the board,” said Triston McKenzie, who pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

Trevor Stephan (4-3) got four outs for the win, and Emmanuel Clase pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.

Yasmani Grandal had three of Chicago’s 11 hits in his second game back after being sidelined by lower back spasms. Johnny Cueto was charged with four runs, three earned, and eight hits in seven innings.

The White Sox, looking for their second straight division title, dropped to 8-9 in a stretch of 19 straight games against AL Central opponents. They also fell to 19-27 at home after going 53-28 at Guaranteed Rate Field last season.

“There is still plenty of season to play,” Cueto said through a translator. “We can’t keep our heads down. We have to keep playing and take advantage of every day.”

Cleveland nearly wasted another solid effort by McKenzie, who felt a little queasy before the game. The wiry right-hander had a scoreless streak of 24 innings before Grandal’s two-out RBI single in the fourth.

McKenzie was in line for his first win against Chicago before Cleveland’s bullpen faltered. He was 0-2 with an 8.63 ERA in seven career appearances against the White Sox coming into the day.

Cleveland jumped in front with four runs in the fifth. Kwan doubled in Jones, Rosario singled in two more runs and Ramirez made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly.

Eli Morgan replaced McKenzie and struck out Sheets for the final out in the sixth, stranding runners on first and second. But the White Sox pushed across three runs with two out in the seventh.

Josh Harrison and Yoan Moncada hit consecutive RBI doubles. Morgan then was replaced by Stephan, who yielded a tying single to Andrew Vaughn.

The White Sox had a chance for more, but Sheets left the bases loaded when he struck out swinging for the final out.

“We had three chances to get the go-ahead run, and they were able to make pitches three times,” manager Tony La Russa said. “It would be nice to play with the lead, see what happens. But that’s not the way it played out.”

WORTH NOTING

Ramirez has driven in at least one run in five straight games. His two sacrifice flies gave Cleveland 35 this season, tops in the AL and matching its 35 sacrifice flies from all of last season.

UP NEXT

Left-hander Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 4.24 ERA) starts for Cleveland in the second game, and right-hander Lance Lynn (1-3, 7.50 ERA) takes the mound for Chicago. Lynn is 0-2 with a 12.21 ERA in his last three starts. Guardians right-hander Shane Bieber (4-5, 3.24 ERA) and White Sox righty Dylan Cease (9-4, 2.15 ERA) meet in the series finale Sunday.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.