November 22, 2014

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Jim Thome home run spoils Zach McAllister gem, lifts Orioles past Indians

CLEVELAND — The Indians plan to build a statue for home run king Jim Thome outside Progressive Field. That might not sit well with some Cleveland fans after the way Thome treated his former team Saturday night.

Thome’s two-run home run off Zach McAllister in the seventh inning scored the game-winning run in the Indians’ 3-1 loss to Baltimore and sent Cleveland to its third straight loss and sixth defeat in eight games.

With the Indians in front 1-0, Thome belted a 1-0 fastball from McAllister over the wall in right field to change the complexion of the game. It was Thome’s second homer in as many nights against his former club, giving the slugger 611 for his career, a night after he passed Sammy Sosa for sole possession of seventh place on Major League Baseball’s all-time list.

“He’s gotten a lot of people,” Indians manager Manny Acta said of Thome, Cleveland’s all-time home run leader with 337. “When you have over 600 home runs, you get a lot of people.”

Thome’s heroics ruined a sparkling outing from McAllister, who allowed three runs on five hits over a career-high 7⅔ innings. Before the Thome homer, McAllister, had shut out Baltimore on two hits over six innings.

“It was another great job by McAllister,” Acta said of the right-hander, who is 4-2 with a 3.21 ERA and has lasted at least 5⅔ innings while allowing four earned runs or fewer in nine starts since being promoted from Triple-A Columbus.

“He continues to impress every five days he goes out there. It’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s been our most consistent guy as of late.

“He was as good as I’ve seen anybody here. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get more runs for him, because he was good enough to win. I feel bad for him.”

“It’s right up there,” McAllister said when asked if it was best outing on the big league level. “I definitely felt good. I felt like I had pretty good command. I definitely felt happy with it.”

As has been the case for numerous starting pitchers throughout the season, McAllister was forced to go it alone. Cleveland’s “offense” amounted to a solo home run from its first batter of the game, Shin-Soo Choo, off Chris Tillman.

The Indians outhit Baltimore 7-6 but left seven on base, with runners aboard in six of the seven innings Tillman worked. Cleveland had two on with one out but failed to score in the fifth after Tillman retired Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera in succession.

“I’m not going to sit here and blame everything on our hitters,” Acta said. “This is the same ballclub that four days ago made that big comeback against Tampa Bay. It comes and goes. No one wants to go out there and not hit and not score runs.”

Thanks to the Indians’ offensive futility, the game came down to one mistake for McAllister, who allowed a solo shot to Ryan Flaherty after Thome’s big blast.

“It was a fastball inner-half (of the plate),” McAllister said of his pitch to Thome. “He missed one in the same spot in his previous at-bat. He didn’t miss that one.”

Thome has hit 22 homers against the Indians, few bigger than the one he clouted Saturday.

“This place, there’s a lot of memories, a lot of great memories,” Thome said of Progressive Field. “I’ve had great memories on that side and then great memories coming here as an opponent.

“Anytime you come home, it’s very special. It’s even more special to get the ‘W,’ so that’s the main thing.”

The Indians, who have fallen back to .500 for the first time since June 29, have gone 21-29 over their last 50 games.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

TODAY

• WHO: Cleveland vs. Baltimore
• TIME: 3:05 p.m.
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Tomlin (5-6, 5.51 ERA) vs. Britton (0-0, 9.00)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM