CLEVELAND (AP) -Maybe veteran Russell Branyan and the young Cleveland Indians can salvage this season after all.
Branyan hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning Thursday night, rallying the Indians to a crazy 8-7 win over the Boston Red Sox.
``I hit it and just held my breath until it hit the ground,' Branyan said.
Cleveland overcame three errors in one inning by third baseman Andy Marte, a 5-0 deficit, then a blown save by Kerry Wood along with an eighth-inning disruption by two unruly fans.
``That's about as roller coaster as you can get,' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Adrian Beltre's two-out, two-run homer in the ninth off Wood (1-2) put Boston ahead 7-6.
The Indians quickly loaded the bases with no outs against Daniel Bard (1-2) in the bottom half. Bard, closing while Jonathan Papelbon is on the bereavement list, then struck out Travis Hafner and retired Jhonny Peralta on a foulout.
Branyan then delivered a looping single over second baseman Dustin Pedroia in shallow right field.
``I was praying for it (to be caught),' Bard said. ``It was in no man's land.
``There wasn't a point in that inning when I thought I wouldn't get out of it. I think you have to have that mentality.'
A different mental state arose in the eighth. Two young men, one wearing a LeBron James jersey, sprinted across the outfield. One waved a bag of resin, creating a stream that resembled smoke. James' pregame ritual at Cleveland Cavaliers games is loading his hands with powder and tossing it in the air.
One of the men slid to the ground as security personnel pursued him. The other tried to jump over a wall but was shoved back by fans onto the field. Both men were handcuffed, hustled into the Indians bullpen and taken from Progressive Field.
``I was warming up in the bullpen,' Wood said. ``It was weird.'
Earlier this season, a fan ran on the field in Philadelphia and was stopped with a Taser.
Wood got two fast outs in the ninth before hitting J.D. Drew in the right leg with a pitch. Beltre then hit his eighth homer to put Boston ahead.
Beltre is 5 for 14 (.358) with three homers and seven RBIs in his career against Wood, who blew his second save in six tries.
``I threw four bad pitches in a row,' Wood said. ``I hit a guy, went to 2-and-0, then he hit the next one out. I'm still kicking myself for hitting Drew.'
The Indians loaded the bases against Bard on walks to Trevor Crowe and Austin Kearns around an opposite-field double by Shin-Soo Choo. Two outs later, Branyan won it.
``I hit it right into the teeth of the shift,' Branyan joked.
``Two outs, game on the line, I don't think it gets any more nerve-racking than that. You make an out and the game's over. You've got a guy out there throwing a 100 miles an hour. You try to pick out a pitch you can get some wood on.'
One night after handing the Red Sox an 11-0 loss, their worst of the season, the Indians finally gained a second consecutive home victory for the first time since winning four in a row April 15-18 at Progressive Field. Cleveland has only 23 wins - but 14 have been comeback victories.
Lou Marson's two-run single in the sixth put Cleveland ahead 6-5 against Boston starter Jon Lester.
Marte helped atone for his miscues with an RBI single to bring the Indians within 5-4 in the sixth. Marson followed with a slicing opposite-field bloop to score two more.
Marte become the first major leaguer with three errors in an inning since Chicago White Sox third baseman Andy Gonzalez on Aug. 30, 2007. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Indians player to commit three errors in an inning was shortstop Frank Duffy on Sept. 24, 1972 - in the 11th inning of the first game of a doubleheader against the New York Yankees.
Marte bobbled a ground ball by Kevin Youkilis with the bases loaded, scoring one run. Later, he made two errors on one play as two runs scored when he mishandled a grounder hit by Mike Cameron, scrambled after it and threw wildly to first.
``It was the worst inning of my career,' Marte said. ``I felt so bad, but now I feel so good - because my teammates picked me up. What a win!'
Lester gave up six runs and nine hits over six innings. He struck out eight with one walk after going 7-0 with a 1.29 ERA in nine previous starts since a loss to Tampa Bay on April 18.
NOTES: Boston DH David Ortiz was 0 for 4 and is 3 for 33 (.084) in June. ... Youkilis left with a mild back spasm in the seventh. He was 0 for 3 after getting 11 RBIs in nine games, going 15 for 35 (.429). ... Francona said Papelbon will be activated Friday. ... Red Sox RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a bullpen session. He was sent to the team hotel Wednesday with stomach flu. ... Cleveland's Jason Donald played second base for the first time in the majors. A career shortstop, he started making the switch at Triple-A Columbus before being called up May 18 when SS Asdrubal Cabrera sustained a broken left arm. ... Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia was 2 for 5, snapping an 0-for-15 slump.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved