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White Sox’ bats wake up to salvage series finale vs. Indians

Jose Abreu slides safely into home as Roberto Perez catches the throw in the fifth inning Sunday. |
David Banks/Getty Images

Learning by doing is one way to teach a young team how to succeed.

Learning by watching a successful team is another, and White Sox manager Rick Renteria likes to employ both methods.

Watching how the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians play — even in a game in which they committed three errors that led to two unearned runs — is part of the schooling.

“They still grind out at-bats,” Renteria said. “They’re not going to quit. Even when they were down, they aren’t going to lie down for anyone. Our challenge is we have to [learn] to do the same.’’

The learning curve might be drawn out for the rebuilding Sox, but they earned a good grade Sunday in a 6-2 victory that salvaged the last game of a three-game series.

The Sox had failed to score in the first two games — and had not scored since the fifth inning of their last game in New York — before shortstop Tim Anderson lit the fire with a leadoff double in the first against Danny Salazar (1-2), whom the Sox bested two weeks ago in Cleveland. Anderson’s hit started a three-run inning and sparked emotions on the team.

“To get off to a great start really set the tone and set the table and makes it easier for the guys behind you to feed off that,’’ Anderson said. “There was a lot of energy. It’s easy for a team to feed off that once you get off to a great start.’’

It made things easier for Sox starter Derek Holland (2-2), who provided his own lift in the fifth, when the Indians mounted their best threat with runners at second and third and no outs.

Holland struck out Roberto Perez and Michael Martinez before walking Carlos Santana to load the bases. But he fanned Francisco -Lindor to end the inning.

“That was huge,’’ Renteria said. “It was a big jam. [Holland] had some guys coming up that could do some damage.’’

After spending parts of the last three seasons on the disabled list, the veteran lefty has been a steady performer for his new employer. Holland has continued the mastery of the Indians he showed in his seven seasons with the Texas Rangers.

Holland improved to 7-1 lifetime in 11 career starts against the Indians with a 2.27 ERA. The only run off him Sunday was a solo homer by Lindor leading off the fourth.

“No matter what, that’s an unbelievable team,’’ Holland said. “They’ve done some great things for the state of Ohio. I’ve got a lot of friends and family back there who pull for them — except when they’re playing me. Just because I have a good record against them, every day you’ve got to show up and go after it. Never give in to them.’’

That is Renteria’s mantra, as well, whether it’s the defending AL champs or a team that knows how to exploit its assets.

“You watch how other clubs might be performing, advancing runners or backing up plays on defense,’’ Renteria said. “You point out when other clubs are doing something well that you want to emulate. The Indians are a fighting club. We want to be able to -elevate and execute our game like that.’’

The Sox helped their stagnant offense by taking advantage of errors by the Indians in the first and sixth innings, while their own defense was solid.

“Defense made the plays for me,’’ said Holland, who was helped by two double plays.

“[The Indians] are a very, very good team with very tough pitching,’’ Jose Abreu said. “But we did our job today.’’

Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.

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