ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - The Cleveland Indians were set up for what could have been a momentum-building victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
They led by five runs after two innings, and held a two-run advantage with two outs in the ninth and closer Chris Perez on the mound.
Then, it all went wrong.
Aggressive baserunning by Elvis Andrus in the 11th inning spoiled the night for the Indians, giving the Rangers an 8-7 win Friday night.
``We had them where we wanted them to be, ninth inning, two-run lead and our closer on the mound,' Indians manager Manny Acta said. ``Unfortunately, we couldn't get it done.'
Andrus scored from second on Josh Hamilton's two-out infield single, denying Ubaldo Jimenez the win in his first start for the Indians.
Andrus sparked the game-ending rally with a two-out bunt single against Rafael Perez (4-2). He advanced to second on a wild pitch before Hamilton hit a soft grounder to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
Hamilton slid headfirst into first, beating Cabrera's throw. Andrus never stopped after rounding third and beat first baseman Matt LaPorta's one-hop throw to the plate.
LaPorta looked at first base umpire Derryl Cousins after Hamilton was called safe before turning and throwing to the plate, and that split second allowed Andrus time to score.
``You catch the ball and throw home,' Acta said. ``You don't worry about whether the guy is going to be safe or out, you come off the bag and you throw home - that's the winning run. That's what you do.'
Neftali Feliz (1-2) tossed 1 2-3 scoreless innings for the win.
Jimenez pitched five-plus innings in his first start since he was acquired from Colorado on July 31. He was charged with five runs and seven hits, but was in line for the victory until the Rangers rallied with two outs in the ninth.
``I was really excited to go out there,' Jimenez said. ``The first two innings, I didn't have any command of my fastball. As the game went on I think I got back on track with my fastball.
``... I'm really disappointed. The closer wouldn't have to even get up if I do my job. We have a five-run lead but I wasn't able to hold it. I really take it personally.'
Hamilton singled off Chris Perez before Michael Young drove a 2-0 pitch over the wall in center for a tying two-run homer. It was Perez's third blown save in 25 chances.
``I fell behind and he hit a fastball, no secret,' Perez said. ``In that situation with two outs, nobody on and two-run game, I'm going to challenge Hamilton, I'm not going to pitch around him, not going to throw sliders until two strikes. The pitch was away to him and he hooked it in. On Young, I fell behind.'
Jimenez was 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts for Colorado. He had to wait to make his Indians debut because he threw 45 pitches on July 30 in a one-inning outing in his final start for the Rockies.
Santana homered and had a career-high five RBIs for Cleveland. Santana's three-run drive in the first and two-run double in the second came off Derek Holland.
Shelley Duncan, called up from Triple-A Columbus earlier in the day, homered for the Indians in a game played in 105-degree heat, matching the highest first-pitch temperature in Rangers Ballpark history.
Holland was coming off his third shutout in a span of five starts, but he got into trouble early in this one. He surrendered consecutive first-inning singles to Jason Kipnis and Cabrera before Santana drove a 3-2 pitch into the seats in right field for his 17th homer.
Cleveland added three runs in the second, helped by Andrus' error on a two-out grounder. Kipnis had a run-scoring bouncer and Santana's big hit extended the lead to 6-1.
Holland allowed six runs, four earned, and five hits in 1 2-3 innings. It was his shortest outing since he recorded just two outs against Florida on July 2.
Duncan's drive in the third made it 7-2, but the Rangers kept chipping away. Mitch Moreland doubled in a run in the third and Napoli had a leadoff drive in the sixth.
NOTES: Cleveland OF Shin-Soo Choo took batting practice, another step in his rehab after going on the 15-day DL on June 25 with a broken left thumb. ... The Indians will start RHP Fausto Carmona against Texas on Saturday night. Carmona is 2-7 with a 5.43 ERA in 10 career starts against the Rangers. LHP C.J. Wilson, 0-2 in his last three starts after winning six straight decisions, gets the start for Texas. ... Kipnis' stolen base in the ninth was the first of his career.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved