05/07/07 5:24 PM ET
Tribe's offense wakes up late vs. O's
Four-run seventh ignites bats; Hafner hits grand slam
By Jeff Seidel / Special to MLB.com
Cleveland got clutch hits from Grady Sizemore and Trot Nixon, a grand slam from Travis Hafner plus a solo homer from Jhonny Peralta. The Indians also used another solid starting effort from 23-year old right-hander Fausto Carmona.
But in this game, it was truly some of the little things that helped the Indians score nine runs in the final three innings to pull out a split of the four-game series before 17,944 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"I'm just proud of how these guys came back the last two games, because they show up to play every day," said Indians manager Eric Wedge. "It was good to get out of here with a split."
The little things began with the game tied at 1 in the seventh. That's when pinch-hitter David Dellucci started a rally with a one-out single off Orioles reliever Chad Bradford (0-2). Josh Barfield, who entered the game batting just .189, followed with a single to left. Sizemore followed with a tie-breaking double off John Parrish.
Victor Martinez then stayed patient to draw a walk with the bases loaded to make it 3-1. Trot Nixon followed with a two-run single to center to break the game open.
Then, in the eighth, the Indians had two on with two outs against Jamie Walker when Casey Blake hit an apparent inning-ending grounder to shortstop Miguel Tejada. But Barfield raced into second and beat the throw to Brian Roberts, keeping the inning alive.
Hafner followed with his grand slam to right-center for a 9-1 lead.
"Dellucci came up with that big hit to start off the inning that gave us a few runs," Wedge said. "Barfield's hustle into second base kept our one big inning going. Trot's really been swinging a hot bat."
Nixon went 5-for-5 in Sunday's win over the Orioles and was 3-for-5 in this game with his two RBIs. The veteran right fielder improved his batting average to .338 but said there was no magic formula for his recent success.
"This game's crazy," Nixon said. "I've seen guys not get a hit for 50 at-bats, but absolutely blister the ball all over the place, and I've seen guys get 10 hits out of 15 at-bats and half of them are squeeze them here, bloop them there. It's a total team effort [for us]."
Hafner had struggled for much of this series. He had just one hit in his first 14 at-bats before the grand slam. The Orioles intentionally walked Blake to pitch to him in the seventh, but Hafner struck out.
The designated hitter did not want a repeat when he came up with the bases loaded in the eighth and crushed a 2-2 pitch from Walker over the fence in right-center.
"You definitely don't want to get out twice in a row in that situation," Hafner said. "I just feel like I've been inconsistent at times with my swing this year. [With the bases loaded], you try to really lock in right there and put in your best at-bat and have your best swings."
Peralta also helped with his solo homer in the ninth off Todd Williams, although the outcome had been decided.
That was more than enough offense for starter Fausto Carmona (3-1), who shut down the Orioles (14-18) for the second time in a week. He limited the Orioles to one unearned run on seven hits in seven innings.
"He's absolutely been throwing pretty well against us," said Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo. "He's got a fastball that moves around pretty good, keeps it out of the center of the plate and sinks it to get groundball outs. He throws strike one a lot and makes it tough for us."
Carmona (3-1) was officially recalled from Triple-A Buffalo today after giving up just one run in a career-best 8 1/3 innings against the Orioles last Sunday.
He had been sent back to Buffalo on May 1 after the start, but he didn't look any different against the Orioles. The Indians will need him since Jake Westbrook went on the disabled list.
"It was the same as [last time]," Carmona said through an interpreter. "I was trying to get the ball down ... and stay ahead of the hitters.
Wedge clearly liked what he saw from his young right-hander.
"This was another great effort from Fausto," Wedge said. "He didn't miss a beat."
The game was tied at 1 going into the seventh as Carmona had to work his way out of trouble a few times, but he never blinked.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.