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05/31/09 5:40 PM ET
Ailing Indians receive walk-off band-aid
Peralta's RBI in ninth wins it after 'pen serves up lead
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The win will not heal Grady Sizemore's inflamed elbow. Nor will it cure Victor Martinez's bruised knee or Rafael Betancourt's strained groin or Travis Hafner's sore shoulder. But in a 24-hour period in which the Indians received nothing but bad news on the injury front, Sunday's dramatic 5-4 victory over the Yankees at Progressive Field was good for what's ailing the Tribe. Sizemore went on the disabled list with the elbow issue, Martinez was on the bench because of the foul ball that smacked off his knee Saturday night and Hafner was in Triple-A Columbus rehabbing a shoulder that flared up on him again this weekend. But with those three key cogs of the offensive attack absent, the Indians still managed to manufacture the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, when Jhonny Peralta ripped an RBI single down the third-base line to score Trevor Crowe from second. "Those [missing] guys are so important," Peralta said. "We need them in the lineup. But we tried to do our best today." Carl Pavano's best effort wasn't good enough to get him his sixth win in the month of May. He nonetheless won as many games for the Tribe this month as he did over the last three years with the Yankees, but he was vying to become the first Tribe pitchers to win six games in a month since Chuck Finley did so in September 2000. Pavano, though, will have to settle for a no-decision after a strong 7 1/3-inning effort. He left a 4-2 lead in the hands of the bullpen, but, between the ineffectiveness of Rafael Perez and Matt Herges and the injury to Betancourt, that was a lead the 'pen couldn't hold. Still, this was another outing that demonstrated just how far Pavano has come from his "American Idle" days in the Bronx. He held the potent Yankee bats to three runs on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts in those 7 1/3 innings. Staked to a 4-0 lead the Indians put up against right-hander Phil Hughes, Pavano didn't make a mistake until he hung a fastball to Mark Teixeira for a two-run homer in the sixth. "My command was good," Pavano said. "I left some balls up and got away with some pitches, but the defense did a great job behind me." The bullpen did not. Pavano was pulled by manager Eric Wedge with one on and one out in the eighth. Perez, promoted from Columbus on Friday, didn't look all that improved after the Triple-A stint, as he quickly served up a double to Johnny Damon to put two runners in scoring position. In came Betancourt, but he strained his groin on a 2-1 pitch to Teixeira and is headed for the DL. In an emergency, Wedge turned to Herges, who promptly allowed Teixeira's game-tying, two-run double off the wall in left-center field. So much for Pavano getting the win against his old club. This was his second outing against them this season, and both times a strong effort was foiled by his teammates. "Things happen," Pavano said. "But we came out with a win, and I'm not going to harp on it too much. The most important thing is we won the game." They won the game not just because of Peralta's big hit, but also because of Kerry Wood's poise and Asdrubal Cabrera's guts. In the top of the ninth, with the score knotted at 4, Wood had runners on the corners with one out. But he got Jorge Posada to ground into the inning-ending double play to preserve the tie. "Kerry made a big pitch when he needed to right there," Wedge said. "That's why you bring that guy in in that ninth inning, is to give your team a chance to win the ballgame." The Indians took advantage of that chance in their last at-bat. Crowe led the inning off with a walk off Phil Coke, and Cabrera put down a sacrifice bunt with two strikes to move Crowe over to second. "He was on his own there," Wedge said of Cabrera, who was not given a sign to bunt. "Only he knows his confidence level and what he's seeing in that situation. It takes guts to do that, but he's a gutsy player." Cabrera said he never entertained the possibility that he might foul the pitch off for an automatic out. "That's my game -- bunting," he said. "I had to bunt there. I was trying to put the ball in play to put the runner on second." Crowe was now on second, and he soon had company on the basepaths when the Yanks summoned David Robertson, who walked Ben Francisco to put two on. Up came Peralta. And on a 2-2 pitch, he smacked a hard-hit liner past a diving Alex Rodriguez at third. Crowe came home, and the Indians were winners for the first time in three games against the Yanks. "The whole at-bat, I tried to look for an inside pitch," Peralta said. "That's what I tried to get him to throw to me. And he did. He threw inside, and I put a good swing on it." And in a weekend where no news has been good news for the Indians, the win was a big one.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.