SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Cleveland reliever Tony Sipp knew a balk call was coming even before home plate umpire Bob Davidson's signal.
The Indians' left-hander paused in his delivery, and no matter how much manager Manny Acta tried to defend the move that forced in the only run of the game, Sipp wasn't having it.
``It was just a mental lapse,' Sipp said following Cleveland's 1-0 loss to the Giants on Saturday. ``I was supposed to stay set until I actually got a sign that I liked but I started moving too early and paused. It didn't move much but I felt it. I knew I balked.'
Sipp was one of the few people in Indians gear who did.
Acta didn't get a good look at it, but spent much of his post-game talk deflecting attention from it. Acta pointed to the two errors committed by second baseman Cord Phelps and the two-out eight-pitch walk to Andres Torres that preceded the balk call instead.
``We put ourselves in that spot by making the two errors and the walk,' Acta said. ``I would never think it's a balk when it's my guy. I guess they felt that he started and stopped. (But) we didn't lose the game because of a balk.'
A day that began with bad news for the Indians ended even worse.
Cleveland right fielder Shin-Soo Choo said he will likely have surgery on his broken left thumb after it was hit a night earlier by a pitch from Jonathan Sanchez. Suddenly, the Indians, who began the day with a one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central, are losing their grip.
All because of bad defense and a balk.
Sipp slightly flinched his left arm before even throwing a pitch to Emmanuel Burriss, allowing Miguel Tejada to score from third. That, along with the two errors by Phelps, spoiled a strong start by Justin Masterson (5-6).
Nate Schierholtz started the inning when he hit a ball into the left-center field gap, hustling around second to try for a triple only to slip halfway between the bases. He was tagged out easily in a rundown.
Then Tejada reached on a throwing error by Phelps that pulled first baseman Jack Hannahan off the bag. Two batters later, Cain hit a chopper up the middle that Phelps couldn't corral for his second error.
Sipp entered and walked Andres Torres on eight pitches to load the bases. Before he even threw another pitch, Sipp flinched his left arm ever-so slightly on the rubber and was called for a balk to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. The Indians didn't contest the call.
``I was thinking (of) another sign,' Sipp said. ``To have it end like that, I'd rather give up a home run, at least something (that's) a physical error instead of mental.'
Matt Cain (7-4) pitched seven-plus innings of four-hit ball in another strong outing for San Francisco's right-hander. He struck out six and walked one to keep the offensively challenged Giants close.
Brian Wilson pitched a scoreless ninth for his 23rd save in 25 chances.
Even the Giants almost blew it.
Pinch-runner Adam Everett was tagged out in a rundown between third and home on a groundball with one out in the eighth. Michael Brantley, standing on second, didn't advance to third - and he might've scored on a passed ball later in the inning.
For most of the day, Cain was untouchable.
After allowing leadoff singles to Brantley and Phelps in the first, Cain retired 14 straight batters with a dominating fastball that had pinpoint control. The streak ended with an inside pitch that hit Austin Kearns with two outs in the fifth, about the only time either starting pitcher lost his rhythm.
Masterson exited after 5 2-3 innings, allowing the one unearned run on four hits. He struck out five and walked two, but his team gave him little support.
``It's one of those unfortunate losses,' said Masterson, who hasn't won since April 26. ``We were so close and yet it was just out of reach for us to go take it. You don't want to lose that way but we're going to keep going.'
The closest Cleveland came to getting a run off Cain came in the sixth, when Brantley doubled leading off. Cain induced two quick groundouts, walked Carlos Santana and then got Grady Sizemore to pop out to first.
NOTES: Indians 1B Matt LaPorta (sprained right ankle) will join the team in Cincinnati on Friday and take batting practice. ... OF Travis Buck, called up from Triple-A Columbus to replace Choo on the roster, arrived in San Francisco in the middle of the game then flew out against Wilson to end the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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