CHICAGO -- Leading late in a ballgame has been a rare occurrence for the Indians over the past two months. Under the circumstances, setup man Vinnie Pestano feels awful about letting some outings slip away from him in the second half.
Pestano yielded a three-run homer to White Sox slugger Adam Dunn in the eighth inning on Monday night, sending the Tribe on its way to a 5-4 defeat. It was an outing that ate at Pestano, who wants nothing more than to end this season on a better note.
"You really want to be used how you're supposed to be used," Pestano said on Tuesday. "You want to pitch in those close situations. You finally get one and you do with it what I did last night, it's terribly deflating. It's been a common theme for the past six weeks or so."
Pestano bounced back with a scoreless eighth inning during the Indians' 4-3 win on Tuesday and struck out Dunn with a man on base.
Over his previous 15 appearances, dating back to Aug. 13, Pestano had gone 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs and a .286 opponents' batting average over 15 1/3 innings. Pestano cited a drop-off in his slider command, forcing him to rely more on fastballs, as one issue he has dealt with of late.
The recent skid has marred an otherwise stellar season for Pestano, who headed into Tuesday's game with a 2.44 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings. Prior to his recent 15-game stretch, the right-hander went 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA, seven earned runs allowed and a .165 opponents' average across 51 innings.
"For the past several weeks, I've been brutal by my standards," Pestano said. "I'm a perfectionist. If I can give up zero runs in a season, I'm going to try. To give up three-quarters of my runs in the last six weeks of the season, I don't know what I can attribute it to besides execution."
Dunn, who belted two homers on Monday night, had high praise for Pestano.
"He's one of the best setup men in baseball," Dunn said. "People have probably never heard of him, but guys in this clubhouse and other clubhouses around the league know he is one of the best."