The Indians welcomed back Travis Hafner in a big way tonight, and Travis got in on the action himself, as Josh Tomlin bounced back with a strong start, the bullpen did its job, Carlos Santana homered, and it all added up to a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, which improved Cleveland to 4-0 in interleague play this year.
Tomlin (8-4, 3.93 ERA) lasted 6.2 innings and gave up only one run on six hits, walking none and fanning five. Then, in the seventh, Vinnie Pestano came on in a tight spot and got the third out, then pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two in his inning and a third, before Tony Sipp ended the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Tribe got on the board first in the third. Matt LaPorta reached on an error by second-baseman Neil Walker, with LaPorta taking second on the play. Then Orlando Cabrera grounded into a fielder’s choice, with LaPorta being caught in a rundown and retired, but not before injuring his lower right leg on the play when the spikes on his right shoe seemed to catch between second and third. and not returning to the game after being helped off the field.
With one out, Jack Hannahan sent Cabrera to third with a single, and Grady Sizemore loaded the bases by drawing a walk off of Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia. Correia (8-6, 3.60 ERA) retired Michael Brantley on a good play by third baseman Josh Harrison on a line drive, but then balked in Cabrera for the first run of the game.
The Indians added a run in the bottom of the fourth when Carlos Santana blasted his eighth homer of the season to right center, making it 2-0. Santana went on to go 3-for-4 and drive in two in a very promising game.
Pittsburgh got on the board in the sixth on an RBI single by Xavier Paul, and it stayed at 2-1 Tribe until the bottom of the eighth, when Cleveland basically put the game away.
But first the Indians squandered a chance in the sixth when they loaded the bases with two outs, chasing Correia in the process, before Adam Everett was retired to leave it at a one-run game.
The Pirates bunched two singles in the seventh to end the night for Tomlin with two outs, before Pestano came on and struck out Michael McKenry.
In the Indians eighth, Daniel Moskos came on in relief of Chris Resop and immediately got into trouble.
Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera singled before Hafner hit a blast to right that deflected off the glove of Paul and hit the yellow line at the top of the wall for a double — which was reviewed and stood. Brantley scored and Cabrera stopped at third after seeming to think that the drive was a homer.
Cord Phelps ran for Hafner and Tim Wood came on for Pittsburgh. After intentionally walking Shin-Soo Choo, Wood gave up a single to Santana for Carlos’s second RBI of the night. Wood retired the next three, but not without Orlando Cabrera plating the third run of the inning and the final run of the night with a sacrifice fly to score Phelps.
At the time of this writing, the Colorado Rockies lead the Detroit Tigers 13-5 in the sixth inning in Denver, so unless something drastic happens and Detroit rallies mightily, the Indians will once again find themselves ahead of the Tigers by a percentage point and back in first place in the AL Central.
Game two of this three-game set will be at 7:05 on Saturday night when Carlos Carrasco will oppose Paul Maholm.