CLEVELAND -- Tuesday's 4-3 Indians victory in 12 innings over the White Sox at Progressive Field was shaping up as a fitting end to an extremely solid season for starter Jake Peavy.
He had allowed one hit through eight innings and retired 23 of 25 batters. Then, the ninth inning rolled around.
After Dayan Viciedo gave the White Sox a 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth with a 426-foot blast against Cleveland closer Chris Perez, pinch-hitter Michael Brantley followed with a single to open the bottom half of the inning and Travis Hafner launched a game-tying, pinch-hit two-run shot off the right-field foul pole. The Indians won the game in the 12th on Jason Donald's two-out single, scoring Lonnie Chisenhall, against Nate Jones, handing Matt Thornton his 10th loss against four victories.
This start actually ended up being representative of Peavy's season, but more about his deceiving 11-12 final record than his first healthy and productive 32-start campaign since coming to the White Sox in 2009.
"It's just fitting the way my year seems to have gone," said Peavy, who entered the ninth inning in search of his fifth complete game at 104 pitches. "Cue ball off the end to start the inning and the ball hits the foul pole and certainly it couldn't hook a foot to the right. Just tough. Just one I wanted to win."
"We were waiting for the right opportunity to put Hafner in there. That was the perfect opportunity," said Cleveland interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. of the ninth-inning strategy. "They could not walk him. They were ahead in the game. Peavy's pitch count was up and we got fortunate right there. Hafner came in and came through."
Peavy struck out eight, giving him 194 for the season and taking the team strikeout crown away from Chris Sale, who finished with 192. His 219 innings marked the second-highest single-season total of his career, trailing only the 223 1/3 innings he threw during his National League Cy Young season in 2007.
Prior to the ninth, Shin-Soo Choo's homer leading off the fourth and a leadoff walk to Jason Kipnis in the seventh were the only baserunners Peavy allowed.
There wasn't much doubt in the mind of manager Robin Ventura that Peavy earned the chance to finish what he started.
"You've only given up one hit at that point. He looked great. He felt strong. The guy got him," said Ventura. "He earned that, what he did this year. He wanted to go back out, so you give him that. He pitched well enough to get a lot more wins than he got. In that sense, it's frustrating."
The White Sox lineup looked slightly different with the playoffs out of reach. Orlando Hudson got the call at second, knocking out three hits and driving home Dewayne Wise in the sixth. Adam Dunn moved to first base, with Dan Johnson starting at designated hitter, while Jordan Danks and Ray Olmedo also received rare extended play.
Dunn, probably playing his last game of the 2012 season, struck out once against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson, who allowed one run on four hits over six innings, and then again against Scott Barnes in the 10th. Dunn has 222 strikeouts, putting him second behind Mark Reynolds' 2009 total of 223 for the single-season record.
The ninth inning took on a few more theatrics when Perez hit Tyler Flowers in the left wrist with a pitch three batters after the Viciedo blast, and Flowers and Perez exchanged words. The White Sox bench also wasn't happy with Perez's pitch to Flowers that came up and in, with a warning issued by home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber to both sides.
After the final out of the inning was recorded, Perez stopped Flowers on the way back to the dugout to seemingly explain that the pitch was unintentional.
"[Perez] tried to go up and in on Flowers. He did not have any intent to hit that guy right there," Alomar said. "It looked bad because he gave up a home run, but he was not trying to do that."
One final game exists on the regular-season schedule, with Gavin Floyd and David Huff taking the mound. It could be the final game of Peavy's White Sox tenure, just as Tuesday could have been his last start.
A trip back to Alabama to be with his family is next on the agenda for Peavy. Then, he'll figure out if what's best for his family happens to coincide with what's best for the White Sox over the next few years.
"If this was the end, it's been a good ride," Peavy said. "We can all look back and say we have no regrets. We did things and handled things the best we could. So it's been a fun ride and I hope this isn't the end.
"I just knew I put everything I could into last offseason, knowing the doctor said this will be your tell-tale if you can do it or not. I would have never imagined it would have been as easy as it has been to stay healthy.
"There have been no pain pills. No anti-inflammatory," said Peavy, who has a 28-25 mark since joining the White Sox. "I never would have imagined it would have come this easy. I feel very blessed to have been through the surgeries I've been through and be where I'm at now. I'm still young. A lot of people think I'm 35, 36 years old. I'm only 31 and have a lot of good baseball ahead of me."