Jul 5, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Chris Perez (54) delivers in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Indians Vs. Rays: Cleveland Splits 4-Game Series With Tampa Bay

The Indians couldn't close the deal on Sunday at Progressive Field, as the Rays tallied three runs in the ninth inning off closer Chris Perez to steal a victory.

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Indians Vs. Rays Final Score: Cleveland Loses After Chris Perez's Blown Save, 7-6

With their chance to wrap up a series victory just two outs away, the Cleveland Indians couldn't hold on against the Rays on Sunday in an extremely disheartening 7-6 loss at Progressive Field.

The Indians were bestowed with a nice gift of five consecutive scoreless innings from starter Zach McAllister to open the day, but after surrendering a pair of two-run doubles to Luke Scott and Desmond Jennings in the sixth the 24-year-old hurler was quickly pulled from the game. Even though he was roughed up a bit before exiting, McAllister showed plenty of promise with a career-high eight strikeouts despite throwing just 89 pitches.

Try to protect a two-run lead and lock down his 25th save of the year, Cleveland closer Chris Perez did not look like his usual All-Star self, and quickly served up a solo home run to Tampa's Will Rhymes in the ninth inning that cut the deficit in half. Still needing only a double play to end the game and send his team to the All-Star break on a high note, Perez instead was beaten on an RBI triple from Carlos Pena that tied the game. Unable to stop the bleeding further, a Ben Zobrist single plated Pena immediately after to put the Rays ahead on the scoreboard and eventually saddled Perez with the loss.

Aside from this being his first blown save since Opening Day against Toronto, the 27-year-old Perez has been absolutely dominant this season at the back end of the Cleveland bullpen. Only Baltimore's Jim Johnson has recorded more saves (26), and there's no question that Perez's body of work is more than deserving of belonging in Kansas City at this year's midseason event.

Now 44-41 on the year and in a complete dogfight in the AL Central, the Indians will open a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center on July 13 to kick off the second half of the season.

For more on the Indians, visit Let's Go Tribe. For more on the Rays, head over to DRays Bay. And for more MLB news, be sure to check out Baseball Nation.


Indians Vs. Rays Final Score: Cleveland Takes 3rd Game Of Series, 7-3

Powered by five runs in the first three innings, the Cleveland Indians took command of their four-game set with Tampa Bay on Saturday night in a key 7-3 victory

Starter Ubaldo Jimenez picked up the win for the Indians to move to 8-7 on the year, posting six strong innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts. Jimenez's offense staked him to a convenient five-run advantage early on, led entirely by a series of doubles and RBI groundouts in the second and third innings.

While a Luke Scott two-run bomb would eventually spoil Jimenez's shutout, designated hitter Shelley Duncan chipped in his eighth home run of the season in the eighth frame to plate catcher Carlos Santana and effectively put the game out of reach. Saturday's appearance represented Duncan's second since July 3 against the Angels, in a game where he also added a key home run.

Indians manager Manny Acta will give the ball to Zach McAllister on Sunday for the fourth and final game of the series.

For more on the Indians, head over to Let's Go Tribe. For more on the Rays, check out DRays Bay. And for more MLB news and analysis, visit Baseball Nation.

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