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White Sox’ Reynaldo Lopez stymies Indians with one-hitter

Lopez strikes out 11, retires 22 of last 23 batters faced in dominating start to close Sox road trip.

Reynaldo Lopez pitches during the first inning against the Indians Thursday. (AP)

CLEVELAND — Reynaldo Lopez has been so up-and-down, the White Sox never know what they’ll get when the 25-year-old right-hander starts.

In their 7-1 victory against the Indians on Thursday, the Sox got the first complete game of Lopez’s career, a dominant one-hitter.

Lopez failed to finish the first inning in his last start against the Braves on Saturday. In the start before that, he pitched five innings of no-hit ball.

Go figure.

On a sunny afternoon by Lake Erie, the Indians could not figure out Lopez (9-12, 5.17 ERA), who retired the last 16 batters he faced and finished with 11 strikeouts against a team fighting for a playoff berth. It’s the kind of start that seems to bode well for the Sox’ 2020 rotation.

It was the Sox’ first complete-game one-hitter since Jeff Samard-zjia threw one on Sept. 21, 2015, at Detroit, and the Sox’ sixth complete game, the best in the majors.

“I was very excited when Ricky [manager Renteria] let me go out for the ninth,” said Lopez, who threw 109 pitches, 70 for strikes. “I wanted to finish, and I was able to do it. It was a good one.”

Lopez retired 22 of 23 after Kevin Plawecki’s RBI double sailed over the head of right fielder Ryan Goins. Goins, an infielder by trade, broke in before breaking back and might not have had a play on the hard-hit drive even with a good jump.

“Playing kind of shallow, I didn’t get the best jump,” Goins said. “It kind of sucks when he only gives up one hit and that was the one, so I’ve got to give him a little something.’’

Lopez said Goins owes him nothing.

“I don’t blame him,” Lopez said. “The guy hit the ball very well, and it was a clean hit.”

Lopez struck out Franmil Reyes looking to end the game and pounded his red glove before being congratulated by teammates. The Indians swung and missed 20 times, the third-most of Lopez’s career.

Lopez has had moments of wavering focus of late, but his focus in this game was on mechanical and technical things.

“I’ve been working with the pitching coach in different aspects but mostly just working to stay behind on the ball and try to generate more spin rate,” Lopez said. “I was able to do that today with all my pitches and that was the key. I’m always looking for ways to improve outing by outing, and today I was able to execute all the things that we did in between outings.”

Matching their win total from a 100-loss season in 2018, the Sox (62-78) went home with a split of their four-game series with the contending Indians, and a 2-5 record on a trip that began with an interleague sweep by the Braves.

Lopez’s catcher, Welington Castillo, slugged a two-run homer in the second against righty Zach Plesac to give Lopez a 2-0 lead and he added two doubles. Tim Anderson raised his average to an AL-best .332 with a single and double in five-at bats.

September call-ups Danny Mendick and Zack Collins played third base and first base, respectively, and each reached base twice. Mendick had the first two hits of his career, and Collins drew the third and fourth walks of the series. Collins also struck out three times.

The Indians, battling for their playoff lives, lost for the fifth time in seven games.

Eight different Indians were strikeout victims against Lopez, including three by Reyes. It was the sixth career double-digit strikeout performance by Lopez.

“He is our future — he’s a part with Dylan [Cease] and Lucas [Giolito] and guys overcoming injuries [Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon],” Renteria said. “There is no doubt in my mind of the quality of pitchers they’re going to be.’’