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.
In the bottom of the seventh Lou Marson tripled with two outs for Cleveland’s second hit, leaving it up to Michael Brantley to try to draw the Indians closer.
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.