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Josh Tomlin gave the Indians what they needed tonight, pitching into the seventh inning and really making only two mistakes, the bullpen once again came through to get to Chris Perez, who got the job done in the ninth for his 18th save, and the Tribe salvaged the finale of their three-game series with a big assist from Travis Hafner’s seventh home run to beat Colorado, 4-3, and remaining a game in front of Detroit as Cleveland heads into an off-day tomorrow and then a long road trip beginning Friday in San Francisco.
Tomlin (9-4, 3.95 ERA) gave up three runs in 6.1 innings, all courtesy of Ty Wigginton, who belted a solo shot in the fifth and a two-run dinger that chased Tomlin in the seventh. The second multi-homer game for a Colorado hitter in as many nights gave Wigginton nine long-balls for the season.
On came Vinnie Pestano to strike out two in that seventh. Pestano then made it three K’s in a row when he got the first out in the eighth. Even so, Tony Sipp came on. The move worked when Sipp retired the next two batters, with a strikeout of his own, to get the game to Chris Perez.
Perez gave up a two-out double to Seth Smith, who beat Perez on Tuesday night with a ninth-inning blast, but Perez got Wigginton to fly out to center to end it and send a crowd of over 17,000 home happy.
Cleveland got to Colorado starter and loser Jason Hammel with two runs in the third. Travis Buck started things with a single, followed by a walk to Jack Hannahan. Grady Sizemore followed with a single to right to put the Tribe up 1-0, still with nobody out, with Hannahan stopping at second. But Hammel (4-7, 4.13 ERA) retired the next two hitters, with both runners moving up, before — with a two-strike count on Hafner — Hammel started his windup and then stopped. A balk was called and Hannahan trotted home to make it 2-0.
After Wigginton’s first homer drew the Rockies to within 2-1, Hafner came through in the bottom of the sixth after Asdrubal Cabrera doubled leading off. Hafner hit a laser-shot down the right field line that wasted little time leaving the yard, and the Indians had what turned out to be the winning run as the margin grew to 4-1.
So the Tribe can relax a bit tomorrow and get ready for three games against the defending World Series champion Giants. Let’s hope that Cleveland has better success than they had recently against the losers of that World Series — the Texas Rangers.
Now winners of five straight against the Tribe, the Rockies shoot for a sweep of this interleague series when the two clubs square off again tonight at Progressive Field.
The Indians had won their first six interleague bouts of 2011 before losing the first two tests of this set, though both games were decided by only a single run. After edging Cleveland by an 8-7 count in Monday's opener, the Rockies pulled out a 4-3 triumph last night on a clutch ninth-inning home run off the bat of Seth Smith.
Smith led off the top of the ninth by launching a pitch from Indians closer Chris Perez into the right-center field seats that snapped a 3-3 deadlock. The blast was the outfielder's second homer of the night, having previously connected on a two-run shot in the sixth.
"I just didn't come through," said Perez. "I made some good pitches [earlier] on Smith, I just hung a slider."
Cleveland did put together a late threat in their half of the ninth, however, as Cord Phelps tripled with two out off Colorado's Huston Street and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a walk before stealing second. However, Street struck out pinch-hitter Austin Kearns to end the game and record his major league- leading 22nd save of the season.
Smith's first long ball put the Rockies up by a 3-0 score, but the Indians slowly chipped away to draw back even. Shin-Shoo Choo knocked in the Tribe's first run with a single in the bottom of the sixth, and Travis Hafner and Travis Buck both came through with RBI base hits in the eighth to knot the contest at 3-3.
Choo's hit was the first surrendered by Colorado starter Jhoulys Chacin, who held the Indians to one run and struck out seven over the first 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander did issue six walks, however, including back-to-back free passes to Cabrera and Hafner in front of Choo's RBI single.
"He did a phenomenal job with the exception of hitting a couple of speed bumps, command-wise," Rockies manager Jim Tracy told his team's official site about Chacin. "He walked the bases loaded and had another inning where he walked two guys. He could've potentially pitched us right on through to the ninth inning."
Both Smith and Jason Giambi finished 3-for-4 to lead Colorado to its seventh win in its last eight tests and fifth in a row versus Cleveland. The Rockies swept a three-game set between the teams in Denver back in 2008.
They'll send Jason Hammel to the hill tonight in hopes of extending that streak. The right-hander comes in off a needed victory in his most recent appearance, which ended a string of five straight losing decisions over an eight-start span.
Hammel didn't pitch particularly well in that game, however, as Detroit reached him for six runs and he walked four batters in 6 1/3 innings of work this past Friday. He still managed to notch his first win since April 30 thanks to a Colorado offense that pounded out 14 hits in a 13-6 verdict.
The 28-year-old has faced Cleveland six times previously, two of which came in a starting role, during his tenure with Tampa Bay from 2006-08 and has never beaten the Indians, having gone 0-2 with a 6.27 ERA in those games.
Cleveland, which still holds a one-game edge on the Tigers for first place in the AL Central, will try to get back on the positive side of the ledger behind Josh Tomlin, the club's leader in wins this season. The second-year major- leaguer has delivered a very solid first half for the Tribe, posting an 8-4 record along with a 3.93 ERA in 14 starts.
Tomlin has been especially tough at home, where he's gone 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA over seven trips to the Progressive Field mound this season. That was the case again this past Friday, when the native Texan fired 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball with no walks to down visiting Pittsburgh.
The 26-year-old also threw a gem in his only other interleague matchup this year, limiting Cincinnati to a run and just three hits through seven frames in a 2-1 victory on May 21.
Seth Smith belted two homers tonight, including the go-ahead blast in the ninth inning off of Chris Perez, and the Colorado Rockies, after seeing the Indians tie the game with two in the eighth, prevailed 4-3 to drop the Tribe for the second night in a row by one run.
Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin came into tonight’s game on a roll, and he continued it in high style into the seventh inning, but the Indians rallied late to take both starters out of the decision equation.
Mitch Talbot, as has happened more than once of late, ran into a pitching buzz-saw, and although Talbot was not bad, he extended his streak of starts without a victory to four.
Colorado drew first blood in the fifth with a rally that began with two out and nobody on — just as the Rockies did in the fifth inning last night. Carlos Gonzalez doubled and scored on a single by Jonathan Herrera.
In the sixth, again with two outs, the Rockies added to their lead when Seth Smith homered, driving in Jason Giambi and making it 3-0 Colorado.
The Indians finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth, although it could perhaps have been better.
After Cord Phelps struck out leading off, Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner walked back-to-back. Then Shin-Soo Choo delivered the Tribe’s first hit, a single to center that scored Cabrera. However, Hafner was gunned down at third for the second out, and Carlos Santana grounded out to end the inning.
The threat of a no-hitter for Chacin was over, but going to the seventh, Colorado still led, 3-1.
Matt Reynolds came on in relief of Chacin to face Brantley and induced the Tribe center-fielder to fly out to left.
That closed the book on Chacin, who went 6.2 innings and allowed only one run on two hits. Chacin might have gone longer had he not walked six, to go with seven strikeouts.
Talbot, meanwhile, also left in the seventh after being touched for eight hits and two walks to go with two K’s. Talbot’s ERA dropped to 4.91, but at that point it was little consolation for once again seeing his mates offensively lacking. At this point in the game, the Indians had scored exactly three runs total in Talbot’s last four appearances.
Luckily for Talbot (if not for the outcome of the game), that lack of offense would change in the eighth.
Rafael Perez, who had relieved Talbot in the seventh, stayed on for the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Todd Helton before getting Troy Tulowitzki to ground into a double play and fanning Giambi, leaving the Tribe still in the game.
Old friend Rafael Betancourt came on for the Rockies in the bottom of the eighth. Immediately the Indians put a runner on when Phelps singled, bringing the tying run to the plate in Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera did not tie the game, but he did single, putting two on with none out as Travis Hafner strode to the plate.
Hafner came through, working the count full and then singling to center, scoring Phelps to draw the Indians within 3-2. Adam Everett came on to run for Hafner, and Matt Belisle entered the game after Betancourt retired nobody and surrendered three hits.
Belisle got Choo to fly out shallow enough to not allow Cabrera to advance, bringing Santana to the plate with one out. Santana hit the ball hard, but lined out to Helton at first, leaving things up to Travis Buck.
Buck, who was on his way to Columbus just a few days ago before Matt LaPorta was hurt, tied the game at 3-3 with a single to right, scoring Cabrera and moving Everett to third.
Jack Hannahan came to the plate with a chance to give Cleveland its first lead of the night, but Belisle retired Hannahan on a liner to center, and it was a brand-new ballgame, tied headed to the ninth, after a nice two-run, four-hit inning for the Indians.
Chris Perez came on for the Tribe — and served up Smith’s second homer of the game and eighth of the year on a drive to right-center leading off.
A base-hit followed before Perez (2-3, 2.63 ERA) got it together and retired the side, and so Huston Street came on for the second night in a row to try to get a save with a one-run lead, with ominous weather brewing and lightning flashing.
Grady Sizemore pinch-hit for Marson leading off and grounded out. Brantley flied out to center for the second out, but Phelps kept the Cleveland hopes alive big-time with a triple to right, putting the tying run just 90 feet away for Asdrubal Cabrera.
Pitching carefully to Cabrera with Everett (who had pinch-run for Hafner) on deck, Street walked Asdrubal on five pitches, putting the winning run on base.
Manny Acta went to Austin Kearns to pinch-hit for Everett, and Cabrera took the force out of play by stealing second.
And of course, Kearns struck out on Street’s twenty-first pitch, and Colorado had their second straight win over the Tribe.
Belisle gets the win for the Rockies to move to 5-2, with Street picking up his 22nd save.
For the Indians, another night of lost opportunities and another agonizing loss. Cleveland will either be in a virtual tie with Detroit or a game up, depending on how the Tigers fare late-night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
Cleveland will have to hope that Josh Tomlin can play the role of stopper on Wednesday night and salvage a game in this series, before the Tribe embarks on a nine-game trip to NL cities — where, of course, pitchers will have to hit…just what a struggling offense does not need.
Chacin (8-4, 2.81 ERA) has won his last three starts. In 20 innings during that span he has allowed only two runs on 10 hits, striking out 18 and walking eight. During his current streak he has beaten the Giants, Dodgers and Padres. A guy who can win three straight games in his division, and be so dominant in doing so, is probably going to be a force to be reckoned with, and Talbot needs to be at the top of his game.
Chacin, who is 4-1 on the road this year, has never faced the Indians. He is in his third big league season, and has a career mark of 17-16, with a 3.17 ERA in 241.1 career innings.
Talbot (2-4, 5.02 ERA), who will be making his first career appearance against Colorado, has dropped his last three starts, but only in his last appearance, against the Tigers in Detroit last Thursday, was he hit hard during this stretch of individual losses. The Tigers pounded out nine hits and six runs in only four innings of work for Talbot, who walked two and struck out three in that effort.
The Indians, after riding a three-run homer from Travis Hafner in the first and a solo shot from Carlos Santana in the fourth to a 4-1 lead entering the fifth inning tonight, saw Fausto Carmona retire the first two in the fifth and then unravel, allowing seven straight baserunners and six runs to score, and the Colorado Rockies were on their way to an 8-7 win over the Tribe.
The loss was the first for the Indians in interleague play in 2011.
Here is a recap of the game via MLB.com, as your reporter is unable to do his own write-up of the details of the game.
The salient points, though, are that Carmona is now 4-9, something may need to be done before Carmona's next scheduled start, which would probably be on national television Sunday night against the San Francisco Giants, and the Detroit Tigers are trailing early against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the West Coast.
Hopefully the Tribe cam get 'em tomorrow when Mitch Talbot (2-4) opposes Colorado's Jhoulys Chacin (8-4) at 7:05 in the middle game of this three-game set.
The Indians, having disposed of the Pittsburgh Pirates in three straight wins, now entertain the Colorado Rockies in the last home interleague games of the season (barring, of course, a World Series appearance) when the Rockies and the Tribe kick off a three-game set on Monday night.
The Rockies helped Cleveland by taking two out of three from the Detroit Tigers in Denver over the weekend, enabling the Indians to move back into first place in the AL Central, a game up on Detroit. Colorado, meanwhile, is a game under .500 and in third place in the NL West, 3.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants -- the Tribe's opponents this coming weekend in San Francisco.
For the opener of this series, the Tribe will send Fausto Carmona, who will be looking to win his second straight start. Carmona (4-8, 5.79 ERA) was the winning pitcher last Wednesday against the Tigers. In that game, Carmona went five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts, but hung around after falling behind 3-0 early.
It would be nice to think that Carmona might be able to carry some momentum forward from that 6-4 triumph, which put the Tribe back into first place at the time.
Colorado will counter on Monday with rookie Juan Nicasio. Nicasio (2-1, 3.38 ERA) will be making just his fifth Major League appearance.
Nicasio has worked only 24 innings in his young career, and has allowed 28 hits but only nine earned runs, while walking five and fanning 18. In his last start, he struck out nine in only six innings while beating San Diego.
This will be the first appearance for either starter against tonight's opponent.
Colorado comes in hitting .253 as a team, and is led offensively by Todd Helton at .308. The Rockies are led in long-balls by Troy Tulowitzki with 13 homers, and Tulowitzki leads in RBI with 46, three more than Carlos Gonzalez's 43 driven in.
This series will continue with 7:05 games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Indians will then be off Thursday before beginning a nine-game interleague road journey to three cities, with stops in San Francisco, Arizona and Cincinnati.
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