BALTIMORE (AP) - The Cleveland Indians managed only four hits, stranded just two runners and sent three batters to the plate in seven of nine innings.
And yet, they nearly found a way to beat the Baltimore Orioles.
The Indians scored three runs in the ninth and had the tying run in scoring position, but couldn't complete the comeback and lost 6-5 Saturday night.
Orioles starter Alfredo Simon (2-2) limited Cleveland to three hits over seven innings, and after Koji Uehara pitched a perfect eighth for Baltimore, the Orioles scored three runs in the bottom half off the Indians' usually reliable bullpen to go up 6-2.
Then came the ninth.
Baltimore closer Kevin Gregg issued three straight one-out walks, then struck out Lonnie Chisenhall before Orlando Cabrera cleared the bases with a three-run double. Mike Gonzalez entered and retired Grady Sizemore on a grounder to earn his first save and snap the Orioles' nine-game skid.
``We put up a fight at the end, but unfortunately when we gave up a three spot in the eighth that put us in a big hole over there, and that was the story,' Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Simon was a big part of it, too. The former closer issued only one walk and needed only 79 pitches to get through seven innings.
``He was throwing a lot of first pitch strikes. There was only so much they could do,' Acta said. ``He had good stuff.'
Simon is scheduled to leave Sunday for the Dominican Republic, where he will attend a hearing Monday in the Jan. 1 shooting death of his cousin. No charges have been filed in the case, which stems from a celebration in which guns were shot in the air.
Simon could return within a few days, although there really is no set timetable.
``When I was there (on the mound) I don't think about that,' he said.
Simon became the second Baltimore starter in the last 29 games to complete seven innings. The former closer allowed two runs, walked one and struck out five in his longest stint since September 2008.
It was the first time in 11 games that Baltimore did not yield at least 10 hits. Orioles starters were 2-12 with a 9,60 ERA in 18 games before Simon reversed the trend.
Despite the loss, the Indians maintained their one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. Cleveland was 5-0 against the Orioles this season.
The Indians had only one base runner in the first five innings and trailed 2-0 before pulling even in the sixth. Austin Kearns hit a roller to third for a single and Lou Marson walked before first baseman Derrek Lee snagged a hard-hit grounder and tagged the bag. Michael Brantley followed with a two-run double to right-center.
Nick Markakis homered off Carlos Carrasco (8-7) in the bottom half, his eighth of the season and first since July 2.
In the eighth, Markakis and Adam Jones hit successive doubles off Rafael Perez to make it 4-2. Felix Pie then doubled in two runs off Frank Herrmann, a hit that turned out to be quite significant in the wake of Gregg's collapse.
``You always like tack-on runs,' Orioles manager Showalter said, ``especially when you have the top of their order coming up and the firepower they have.'
Carrasco gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings. He has lost his last three starts.
``Tonight I don't find fastball command,' the right-hander said.
After agreeing to a three-year extension earlier in the day, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy promptly offered proof to justify the deal. He led off the first inning with a double, advanced on a fly ball and came home on a sacrifice fly by Jones for a 1-0 lead.
Simon retired all nine batters until Brantley singled leading off the fourth. He was wiped out on a 3-6-1 double play.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the bottom half. Markakis hit a leadoff double and was on third base with two outs when Lee delivered an RBI single. Lee was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a double by Reynolds.
NOTES: After the game, the Orioles placed DH Vladimir Guerrero (hand) on the 15-day disabled list and optioned LHP Pedro Viola to Double-A Bowie. Baltimore recalled LHP Troy Patton and OF Matt Angle from Triple-A Norfolk. ... With the victory, Orioles manager Buck Showalter avoided the longest skid of his career. ... It was only the third time in eight games that Cleveland failed to get 10 hits.
The Associated Press News Service
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