September 23, 2014

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Indians down Twins in 10 as Drew Stubbs caps big night with game-winning hit

CLEVELAND — An unlikely hero kept the good times — and the longest winning streak of the season — rolling for the Indians on Friday night.

Center fielder Drew Stubbs doubled off Minnesota reliever Casey Fien with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, scoring Mike Aviles, to give the Tribe a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Twins.

Stubbs tied his career high with four hits in five at-bats, including a career-best three doubles, as Cleveland won its fifth straight game and evened its season record at 13-13.

“I feel great right now, and I’m seeing the ball really well and putting good swings on pitches,” said Stubbs, who was acquired from Cincinnati as part of the Shin-Soo Choo trade on Dec. 11, 2012. “This season is still very young, but I hope I can keep it going for a long time.”

The light-hitting Stubbs entered this season with a .241 career average, but is batting .284 in 25 games with the Indians. The walk-off winner was the third of his career, and his first since helping the Reds beat San Francisco four years ago.

“We got Drew because we love his athleticism, his ability to play the outfield and the way he runs the bases,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said. “And since Bourny (injured outfielder Michael Bourn) went out, he’s played Gold Glove-caliber center field — and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit for that.

“Nights like this make you feel really good because Drew is such a hard worker. I’m very happy for him.”

Stubbs’ three doubles came off three pitchers, making him the first MLB player to record four hits and three doubles from the nine-spot in the batting order since Arizona pitcher Micah Owings on Sept. 27, 2007, at Pittsburgh.

Indians closer Chris Perez (1-0, 1.00 ERA) earned the victory by pitching a scoreless 10th, but the game wouldn’t have gone to extra innings without a misplay in the eighth by Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier.

Twins reliever Jared Burton forced Jason Kipnis into hitting what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball, but Dozier bobbled it, allowing Aviles to score from third and tie the game at 5.

“Burton did a good job getting the ground ball, but if we would have made the double play or not, I don’t know,” Dozier bristled. “Kipnis runs well. You never know.”

Rich Hill tossed one perfect inning of relief from there, allowing the Tribe to beat Fien (1-2, 3.97 ERA) in the 10th. Fien was the fifth pitcher used by Minnesota.

“It was a good ballgame with both teams going back and forth, doing some damage here and there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We just came up on the short end.”

Kipnis legitimately came through in the sixth, when he laid down a two-out bunt single toward third that scored Yan Gomes and extended the Tribe’s lead to 5-3. His hit came two batters after Cleveland chased Minnesota starter Pedro Hernandez after 5⅓.

The Indians’ two-run advantage, however, proved short-lived as starter Justin Masterson ran into trouble in the seventh. The right-hander went 6⅔ innings and allowed five runs and eight hits, while laboring through his 98-pitch outing.

After Ryan Doumit’s RBI single pulled Minnesota within 5-4, Francona went to the bullpen and called upon Cody Allen. The move backfired as right fielder Chris Parmelee greeted Allen with a two-run homer to right field that also closed the book on Masterson.

“I pitched, we didn’t lose and we wound up winning the ballgame,” Masterson said with a smile. “At the end of the day, that’s five in a row. That’s really all that matters to me. We’re having a lot of fun right now.”

Indians designated hitter Mark Reynolds provided an additional thrill for the “Dollar Dog Night” crowd of 20,200, which was the Tribe’s second largest at home this season.

In the fifth, Reynolds tomahawked a Hernandez pitch 429 feet midway up the bleachers in left for a two-run homer. It was his ninth of the season, tying him for tops in the American League.

“When pitchers miss their spots, you’re supposed to turn them into mistakes,” said Reynolds, who also leads Cleveland with 24 RBIs and 19 runs. “But I was more excited about Stubbs’ hit at the end. It was a tight game, but we got to run around and act like kids when he won it for us.”

Aviles notched his 500th career hit with a fourth-inning double and finished 3-of-4 with two runs. Kipnis added two hits, while Gomes scored twice.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.

TODAY

• WHO: Cleveland vs. Minnesota
• TIME: 1:05
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Kazmir (0-1, 8.64 ERA) vs. Correia (3-1, 2.23)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM