Late run gives Tribe sixth win in a row
Shoppach's homer caps six-run fifth after Sowers bounced
ARLINGTON -- Rain delayed Saturday's first pitch one hour, 14 minutes. Two hours after that, the game was right back where it started when Kelly Shoppach's three-run home run capped off an improbable six-run fifth inning by the Indians to tie the game.Shoppach's drive, clutch situational hitting in the eighth and yet another save from Jensen Lewis overcame a six-run Texas fourth inning and sent Cleveland on its way to an 8-7 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The victory extended the Tribe's season-long winning streak to six games. "It's definitely a very pleasing day coming back with six runs after they scored six," said Shoppach, who is from the Fort Worth, Texas, area. "That's got to hurt a team when they score six and we come right back and score six." Four innings into the game, one of the most highly unlikely scenarios was that Lewis would be on the mound looking for his sixth save in as many opportunities. But that's just the position Lewis was in, nursing a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. And that one-run lead looked mighty vulnerable when Lewis went 3-and-0 to the first batter of the inning. But Lewis bounced right back and struck out the Texas side in the ninth to slam the door shut. While all signs pointed to a night off for Lewis, he held out hope that the club would need him in the ninth. "That is the one thing," Lewis said. "I don't think any of us in here think we're ever out of any game. When you get behind like that, that's when you really have to grind down and chip away, and that's what they did." Five innings earlier, Texas had posted a six-spot on Cleveland starter Jeremy Sowers. Sowers, whose Achilles' heel this season has been getting lit up in the first inning, made it through the first two unscathed, facing the minimum. But he started to falter in the third, allowing a run on three hits, before getting chased in the fourth. Four straight Rangers reached to lead off the inning before a two-out, two-run home run from Michael Young ended Sowers' night with Texas ahead, 7-1. "He just made some bad pitches," manager Eric Wedge said. "He left some pitches out over the plate and, most of all, he struggled [pitching] out of the stretch." The Rangers sent nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the fourth en route to a six-run inning, and the Indians matched them in the top of the fifth, scoring six runs of their own to get Sowers off the hook. "We had a lot of baseball to play," Wedge said. "I told the guys to get back at them. It was great, not just to come back, but to do it right away." The fifth inning couldn't have started out much worse for Cleveland, though, against Texas reliever Josh Rupe. Three batters into the inning, the Tribe was down to one out after David Dellucci hit into a 4-6-3 double play. But after that, Rupe put four straight Indians on base. One of those baserunners was hotly contested by the Rangers. Rupe threw an 0-and-1 hanging breaking ball inside that appeared to hit the handle of Jhonny Peralta's bat as he ducked to avoid the pitch. Instead, home plate umpire Tim Welke ruled it hit Peralta and awarded him first. A protest from Texas manager Ron Washington and a conference among the umpires didn't result in an overturn. "It was just tough to tell," Wedge said. Three batters later, Shoppach belted a three-run home run to left off Warner Madrigal, who'd just entered the game, to tie the score, 7-7. "It was a new pitcher, so I just guessed and got lucky that he threw where I was swinging," Shoppach said. In the eighth, Shoppach started a rally that resulted in the deciding run. After legging out an infield single and advancing to second on a passed ball, Shoppach was pinch-run for by Franklin Gutierrez with pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll at the plate. Carroll singled to right field and Gutierrez chugged home for the winning run off Jamey Wright. "You know you're going to get a professional at-bat out of [Carroll]," Wedge said. "He puts himself in a position to have a good at-bat, and that's just what he did." Cleveland's bullpen moves fared far better than the ones Texas made. The combination of Edward Mujica, Rafael Perez, Rafael Betancourt and Lewis combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. Mujica pitched 2 1/3 of those innings as Texas sent only 16 batters to the plate the last five innings. "This one, give all the credit to the rest of the bullpen," Lewis said. "If they don't shut down the offense, we wouldn't have had a chance to win. And we had guys on offense who didn't quit, and that's our nature." Grady Sizemore remains waiting to join the 30/30 club, going without a home run Saturday, but he tacked onto his stolen base total with three. It was the second time in his career he swiped three bases in a game, and it increased his season total to 34.
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.