CLEVELAND (AP) - The struggling Cleveland Indians got some good news Saturday.
Unfortunately, it came a few hours before the first pitch.
Before their sixth loss in eight games - a 3-1 defeat against Baltimore - the Indians learned pitcher Roberto Hernandez would be eligible to rejoin the team next month.
Hernandez will serve a three-week suspension from Major League Baseball for age and identity fraud. General manager Chris Antonetti said Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has received a visa to return to the United States and that he would be eligible to rejoin the team Aug. 11.
It remains to be seen how much Hernandez will help the Indians, but it's obvious they will need something to stay in the AL Central race. Cleveland (47-47) has lost three straight and is back to .500 for the first time since June 29. The Indians haven't been below .500 since April 14 when they were 3-4.
Manager Manny Acta is happy to get any kind of help.
``We've added a guy who has been part of our rotation the last few years,' he said. ``We could use a guy who can go out there every five days and give us a chance to compete.'
MLB said in a release that Hernandez, a key figure in Cleveland's rotation since 2007, will be allowed to participate in a minor league rehabilitation assignment during his suspension. His rehab will include three or four starts. The right-hander will throw for Acta and the coaching staff Sunday.
The third-place Indians are 3 1-2 games behind Detroit in the division. It's unclear where they will be by the time Hernandez returns. The Indians are 12th in the league in ERA for starting pitchers and have scored three or fewer runs six times in the last eight games.
Saturday's loss was just more bad news. Jim Thome's two-run homer in the seventh inning ruined a strong performance by Zach McAllister (4-2), who had a two-hit shutout through the sixth.
Thome, who passed Sammy Sosa for seventh place on the all-time home run list on Friday, hit his 611th and second with Baltimore since being acquired from Philadelphia on July 1 off Zach McAllister (4-2).
Chris Tillman (2-1) allowed only Shin Soo-Choo's leadoff homer in the first in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander, making his third start of the season since being called up earlier this month, gave up six hits, struck out four and walked one.
Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his league-leading 29th save.
Thome hit a 1-0 pitch to right field after J.J. Hardy started the seventh with a single. Ryan Flaherty added a solo shot in the eighth for his second homer in as many nights.
The Orioles have won four straight for the first time since a season high-tying five-game streak June 9-14.
Thome has 190 career homers at Progressive Field. The left-handed slugger holds Cleveland's career record with 337 homers. A key part of the Indians' powerful lineup from 1991-2002, Thome returned for the final two months of the 2011 season.
Thome admitted playing in Cleveland holds extra meaning.
``There's a lot memories,' he said. ``I've had great memories on that side and then coming in here as an opponent against them. Any time you come home, they say, it's very special. It's even more special to get the W's. That's, I think, the main thing. The bottom line is I played here a long time.'
McAllister didn't think his fastball on the inner half of the plate to Thome was a bad pitch.
``I stayed in there the whole game,' McAllister said. ``He missed one the at-bat before. I tried to go back in there and he didn't miss that one.'
Choo hit a 1-2 pitch to right field for his 11th homer of the season and fifth to lead off a game.
McAllister did his best to make that lead hold up until the seventh.
NOTES: The Orioles added INF Omar Quintanilla, acquired from the New York Mets for cash on Friday, to their 25-man roster and designated OF Steve Pearce for assignment. .... RHP Matt Lindstrom, who was struck on the left knee by a line drive Friday, had X-rays Saturday and was unavailable to pitch. ... The Indians signed LHP J.C. Romero to a minor league contract and added him to the Triple-A Columbus roster. Romero, who has pitched in the majors for 11 seasons, was released by St. Louis earlier this season. ... LHP Rafael Perez (strained lat muscle) will pitch two innings on a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron on Monday. ... Game 3 of the series takes place Sunday. Tommy Hunter faces Justin Masterson in a matchup of right-handers.
The Associated Press News Service
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