In the midst of one of its worst stretches of the season and up against stiff competition in National League Central Division leader Cincinnati on Monday, Cleveland shook its losing ills and slugged its way to a 10-9 victory over the Reds.
The Indians had lost five of six games coming in, posting a 6-11 record since Memorial Day.
“That was a great win. We really needed a win like this, where we just kept coming back and fighting,” manager Manny Acta said. “It was a great team effort, just not feeling sorry for yourself because you’re not playing that well and rolling over. These guys really went after it today. This group has shown us that they can do that.”
The lead changed hands three times before the Indians scored twice in the sixth inning to forge ahead for good.
Much of the reason for the back-and-forth exchange stemmed from the ineffectiveness of both team’s starting pitchers — Cleveland’s Derek Lowe and Cincinnati’s Mat Latos.
Lowe lasted five innings, allowing seven runs on 11 hits, while Latos’ outing was briefer, the right-hander surrendering seven runs on eight hits over four innings.
“You could tell early,” Acta said of Lowe. “When a sinker-baller is giving up fly balls, that’s not a very good sign. He looked like he got in a better groove but again the sinker started to get back up.”
“It was a bad combination early of not very good pitches and guys that have hit me really well (in my career),” said Lowe, who allowed five runs over the first three innings. “It was a huge win. I kept us digging us hole after hole after hole and we kept finding ways to get back in the game.”
Lowe, who exchanged disparaging remarks with Reds manager Dusty Baker, was asked if the feud between the two was over.
“Holy smokes, yes,” he said.
Helping Lowe get off the hook for the loss was the surprising contingent of No. 8 and No. 9 hitters Casey Kotchman and Lonnie Chisenhall, who combined to drive in six of their team’s runs — both hitting pivotal home runs.
“We got some contribution from the bottom of the order today, which was great,” Acta said. “That’s how the game is: Our No. 2 and No. 3 guys didn’t get a hit and they need to get picked up by somebody else.”
Chisenhall, who came up a double shy of the cycle, hit a two-run homer to give Cleveland its first lead in the second inning, while Kotchman’s two-run homer in the fourth put the Indians in front 6-5.
“I’m going to say it’s (my) best game in the major leagues so far,” Chisenhall said. “The combination of the fans, we’re scoring runs and obviously having a good offensive night didn’t hurt.”
When he came up for his final at-bat in the eighth, Chisenhall admitted the cycle was on his mind before lining out to right fielder Jay Bruce.
“That’s all I was thinking about,” he said. “If it short-hops Bruce there and gets down, I have to go to second there. A cycle is a big deal. You have to go after it.”
The Indians added an insurance run in the seventh, which proved pivotal when closer Chris Perez allowed a run in the ninth. The right-hander still secured the save — his 22nd straight since Opening Day.
“It was a big,” Perez said. “We haven’t been playing that well. Our offense picked us up tonight. Right now, any win is big, for sure.”
Perez’s consecutive saves streak is the second-longest in club history behind Jose Mesa, who converted 38 straight in 1995.
The Indians produced a season-high eight extra-base hits, with Shin-Soo Choo also hitting a homer to lead off the game for Cleveland.
The start to the game was delayed for 10 minutes by rain.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.