CLEVELAND -- Zach McAllister wasn't discouraged when the Indians sent him back to Triple-A Columbus in May. Even though he had pitched well during his time in the starting rotation, he knew he had to stay positive if he was ever going to find his way back to Cleveland.

"It wasn't surprising," the 24-year-old McAllister said. "I knew it was coming, [it was] just a matter of time. I kind of took it as I was happy with the way I performed for that first time. I knew I needed to continue to pitch well at Triple-A or somebody else would come up and take my spot.

"When you're one of those guys that's up and down, it's a matter of being mentally strong and trying to compete against yourself. I knew I had the stuff to get guys out in the big leagues. I also knew if I didn't do my job down there, I wouldn't get that opportunity again."

He continued to pitch well with Columbus and, when Jeanmar Gomez began to struggle with the Indians, McAllister got another opportunity in the big leagues. He's become Cleveland's most consistent starter since being recalled on June 28, and he figures to remain in the rotation for a while.

McAllister is 4-2 with a 3.21 ERA in nine starts this season. Even though he was called up to be the Indians' No. 5 starter, McAllister is the only Cleveland starter with an ERA under four.

The right-hander's success can be attributed, in part, to his ability to settle in on the mound early. In five starts since rejoining the rotation, McAllister has allowed one run before the fifth inning.

"He's been great since he's been up here," said Indians setup man Vinnie Pestano. "He's been on the unfortunate side of a couple starts or else his numbers would probably look even better than they are."

Players watching on sidelines as Trade Deadline nears

CLEVELAND -- The Tigers are surging and the White Sox are making moves.

The Indians, meanwhile, have remained pretty much the same in the American League Central. They haven't yet fallen out of the race -- they were three and a half games behind Detroit for first place entering Sunday -- but they haven't shown they will remain in it, either.

"Everyone knows what's going on, but [trades are] something that players can't control," Indians pitcher Zach McAllister said. "That's something that the front office is in control of, and we have no say."

The White Sox improved its team by adding pitcher Brett Myers from the Astros on Saturday, and they've already traded for hitter Kevin Youkilis. The Tigers, who added free agent prize Prince Fielder in the offseason, have started to play up to their potential.

Indians general manger Chris Antonetti maintains that the team is actively pursing trades, but Cleveland has yet to make a move. The Non-Waiver Trade Deadline is July 31.

"The front office is looking for the right pieces, not just any pieces," said Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano. "I'm sure there's a bunch of guys we could have gone out and just acquired, but until the 31st comes and goes, I think it's unfair to start looking around at what other team's are doing. We don't know really what's going on up there. We've heard that they are aggressively pursuing stuff."

Pestano, though, isn't sure whether the Indians should be buyers at the Deadline. They entered Sunday's game against the Orioles losers of six of their last eight, and they were on the verge of falling below .500 for the first time since April 14.

"We keep leaning back on the 'We haven't played our best baseball yet' line, and we haven't," Pestano said. "But we've been very inconsistent this year, and I don't know if adding a piece is going to bring that consistency or not. It's gotta be the right piece."

Quote to note

"I was very impressed with his physical shape. When he walked into my office, I was very happy to see that. I know he was antsy, and probably at times discouraged, but he never stopped working, and it showed."
--Indians manager Manny Acta on pitcher Roberto Hernandez -- formerly Fausto Carmona -- who returned to Cleveland on Sunday.

Smoke signals

• Designated hitter Travis Hafner was out of the lineup against left-hander Zach Britton on Sunday. Indians manager Manny Acta said he is still trying to give Hafner an occasional off-day to rest his surgically repaired knee. Hafner came off the disabled list on July 4.

"The knee's taken into account," Acta said. "If you're gonna rest him, might as well do it against left-handed pitching. That way, you can balance things better."

• Acta isn't sure whether left-handed reliever JC Romero will pitch at the big-league level again this season. The Indians signed Romero to a Minor League contract on Saturday and sent him to Triple-A Columbus. Romero, who had a 10.13 ERA in 11 appearances with the Cardinals, hasn't pitched since May 12.

"We're not gonna be jumping the gun," Acta said. "I'm not going to sit here and say he's gonna help us over here. He needs to prove that he's still capable of pitching and getting left-handed hitters out. If we have to make the move, then we'll make it."

• Injured third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist), who is currently on the disabled list, was in the clubhouse on Sunday without a cast on his wrist. Chisenhall had surgery on June 30 and was expected to miss 10-12 weeks.

• Entering Sunday's game, the Indians bullpen had posted a 2.30 ERA since June 30, recording scoreless efforts in 10 of the last 18 games.