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06/21/08 9:59 PM ET
Indians break out in 11th
Peralta the hero in second straight extra-innings win
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- A celebrity softball game was scheduled to take place on the field at Dodger Stadium after Saturday afternoon's Indians-Dodgers game. That spelled trouble. "Any time you schedule something on the field after a game," Indians manager Eric Wedge said, "the game goes long."
Long, yes. But for the Indians, once again it was worth the wait.
For the second time in as many days, the Indians had the big hit in extras. This time, they had several of them, putting up a six spot in the top of the 11th to beat the Dodgers, 7-2, and take this weekend Interleague series.
Also for the second time in as many days, it was shortstop Jhonny Peralta who spurred the rally. His two-out RBI single off Scott Proctor got this one going, and his teammates kept it going from there.
"That's what it takes sometimes is somebody to start it," Wedge said. "I thought we had some really good at-bats that paid off for us."
In the game's first 10 innings, though, the only at-bat that got the Indians on the board was the one turned in by starter C.C. Sabathia against Chan Ho Park in the third inning.
Sabathia's second career home run -- a lined, 440-foot shot to right field -- gave him a 1-0 lead to work with. As it turned out, he and the Indians would desperately need that run.
Picking up where he left off last week, when he was named the American League's Player of the Week, Sabathia was brilliant on this 95-degree day. The only damage done off him came when Matt Kemp hit a solo homer in the sixth. That was the lone run Sabathia allowed in seven innings in which he held the Dodgers to five hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts.
"He was easy to catch, because he had fastball command to both sides," said Sal Fasano, who was catching Sabathia for the first time. "To see Delwyn [Young] strike out twice, and both times the ball hit his back foot, that tells you how good [Sabathia] was. His cutter looks like a fastball, then all of a sudden it just dives in."
Sabathia's overall command hasn't been better at any point this season than it is right now. He has found the form that made him the AL Cy Young Award winner in '07, giving up just four runs on 16 hits with two walks and 25 strikeouts over 24 innings in his last three starts.
"I'm pounding the strike zone," he said. "My walks are down, and I'm able to control the inside part of the plate."
Had Sabathia not contributed at the plate, the Indians wouldn't have won this game. The rest of the Tribe batters did next to nothing against Park and a host of Dodgers relievers en route to striking out a season-high 16 times.
But with Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez and Masa Kobayashi preserving the 1-1 tie, the Indians had their chances to take over. After grounding into double plays in the ninth and 10th innings, they finally did take control in the 11th.
The big inning began with back-to-back singles from Jamey Carroll and Ben Francisco off Cory Wade. Proctor was brought out with one out and Peralta coming to the plate.
Peralta came into this series with a .189 average with runners in scoring position, but he's been inordinately clutch the last two days. On Friday, his two-out, two-run double off Takashi Saito won it for the Tribe. This time, he ripped a ground-ball single through the left side to bring in the go-ahead run.
But the Indians didn't stop there. Casey Blake followed with a double to left to bring in another run, and Kelly Shoppach broke it wide open with a two-run single to deep left. The Indians piled on when Grady Sizemore added an RBI single off Ramon Troncoso to complete the rally.
"Jamey did a great job starting the inning off, and Jhonny came through with a big hit," Blake said. "We showed a lot of heart the last two days."
They showed heart in the heat, and in games that went past regulation. And on this day, the B-list celebs had to wait for the Indians to find their "A" game.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.