- 142 wins
- 110 wins
CLEVELAND -- Manny Acta has always made it clear that he does not waste his time listening to outside criticism. The Indians manager is not one to tune in to local call-in radio shows or keep a close eye on what columnists are writing about him.
Acta certainly won't be listening on Wednesday morning.
A tactical decision in Tuesday's eighth inning, when the Indians had their best opportunity to find the win column, came back to haunt the Tribe in the ninth. The end result was a 4-3 Interleague loss to the Rockies with the final image being Austin Kearns striking out with two runners on in a critical pinch-hit appearance.
"I don't care what people think or say," Acta said. "I'm trying to win ballgames here."
A combination of things led to Cleveland's latest defeat. Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin was effectively wild in taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and Colorado's Seth Smith proved to be a thorn in the Tribe's side with two home runs that provided the bulk of the offensive damage.
The knockout punch came courtesy of his solo homer in the ninth inning, a hanging slider from closer Chris Perez. The ill-fated 2-2 offering from Cleveland's stopper sailed out to right field and put the American League Central-leading Indians (39-33) behind for good.
"I just didn't come through," Perez said. "I just hung a slider. It happens. Home runs are part of the game. I hadn't given one up in a while, but it's part of the game."
It was the first home run Perez allowed since June 27, 2010, when Cincinnati's Joey Votto cleared the fence. Perez had gone 62 games and 60 1/3 innings between surrendered shots, posting a 1.34 ERA over that span.
Indians fans will be quick to forgive.
The larger issue will likely be the final out. With two runners on base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kearns was called upon as a pinch-hitter for Adam Everett. In the eighth, Everett came off the bench to run for Indians slugger Travis Hafner, who singled home a run in a two-run, game-tying rally.
The decision to use Everett made sense. The veteran infielder possesses greater speed than Hafner, who had already been thrown out once while attempting to advance an extra base. Everett made it as far as third base after the switch, but a lineout to center by Jack Hannahan ended the push, leaving the game in a 3-3 knot.
In the ninth, however, Kearns -- with his .206 batting average and .174 showing against right-handed pitchers -- was asked to pinch-hit against Rockies closer Huston Street. Indians rookie Cord Phelps had already tripled off Street with two outs and Asdrubal Cabrera reached via a walk.
After five pitches and a trio of feeble swings, Kearns struck out and Cleveland slipped to 6-2 in Interleague Play.
"I'll never manage a ballgame sitting in the dugout thinking about what I'm going to answer after the game," Acta said. "I'm trying to win a ballgame right there. If a guy would've hit the double in the eighth inning, and Hafner doesn't score, then it's the other way around."
The Indians' offensive struggles went well beyond that final whiff, though.
Chacin equaled a career worst with six walks, but played damage control through his 6 2/3 innings on the hill. The righty walked the bases full in the third, but struck out Hafner to escape unscathed. The lack of early run support spoiled an admirable effort from Indians starter Mitch Talbot.
"It's always tough," Acta said. "[Chacin] was kind of effectively wild against us. When he wasn't in the zone, we walked. But then he was able to get back into the zone and we couldn't hit him."
Talbot walked away with a no-decision after allowing three runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. Carlos Gonzalez doubled and scored in the fifth and Smith delivered the first of his two blasts in the sixth. That shot was of the two-run variety, putting the Rockies (37-36) on top, 3-0.
"Out of my hand, it felt like it was where I wanted it to go," Talbot said. "He just got it."
Talbot walked off the field in line for a loss, and admitted that the low run support does weigh on a pitcher's mind at times.
"It comes through your mind a little bit," he said. "It's like, 'When are we going to score? When are we going to score?' It's more while you're sitting on the bench. Once you get out there, all you're thinking about is doing your job."
Shin-Soo Choo came through with an RBI single off Chacin in the sixth inning, and the Indians mounted a comeback attempt again in the eighth. With thunder clapping and lightning flashing, Cleveland pieced together three straight singles off reliever Rafael Betancourt.
The third in that sequence came from Hafner, plating one run to trim Colorado's lead to one. Travis Buck later ended an 0-for-24 skid at the plate by pulling a pitch from Rockies reliever Matt Belisle into right field for the game-tying single.
That is where Cleveland's comeback ended.
"We put up a fight at the end," Acta said. "We just couldn't get that big hit, but I like the way we played."