July 31, 2014

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Raburn hits walk-off homer in 11th to push Indians past Rangers

CLEVELAND — After the Indians blew a six-run lead, Ryan Raburn’s bat sent them to seventh heaven Friday night.

Raburn hit a three-run homer onto the left field porch with no outs in the 11th inning, giving the Tribe an 11-8 victory over the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field.

It was Cleveland’s seventh walk-off win of the season and kept it three games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division.

Raburn’s shot came off Rangers reliever Jason Frasor (0-2, 3.26 ERA) and was his second career walk-off blast. Frasor had surrendered singles to Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana to open the 11th, which was his third inning of work.

“It’s just this game, crazy things happen, and I’m just fortunate to be on the good side of it tonight,” said Raburn, who went 2-for-6 with two runs scored. “I was fortunate that he left a slider up for me, and I was able to get it up over the wall.”

Frasor agreed with that assessment, saying, “It was a cookie right down the middle. I put it on a tee for him.”

Indians reliever Bryan Shaw (1-2, 4.03) earned the victory by pitching one scoreless inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Leonys Martin, then advanced him to third on a wild pitch before retiring Nelson Cruz to end the inning.

Center fielder Michael Bourn drove in three runs for the Tribe, while left fielder Michael Brantley, third baseman Mike Aviles and shortstop Cabrera had three hits apiece. First baseman Nick Swisher hit his 11th home run of the season, a solo shot in the first inning.

“We may not have the best talent, but we have, by far, one of the tightest teams,” Swisher said. “When Raburn was coming around the bases, I just grabbed the two coldest bottles of water I could find and was just launching at him.

“That’s the thing about this group. No one was excited about going to extra innings, but we’re always going to keep fighting hard and finding ways to win.”

Cleveland held a 7-1 lead heading into the fifth inning, but starting pitcher Corey
Kluber and relievers Cody Allen and Joe Smith proceeded to melt down against Texas’ powerful lineup.

Allen allowed two runs in the seventh to cut the Indians’ advantage to 8-6, while Smith gave up a game-tying, two-run single to Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler in the eighth.

Tribe closer Chris Perez threw a perfect ninth to send the game to extra innings tied at 8. Perez also pitched a 1-2-3 10th, marking his first two-inning outing since May 29, 2010.

“We were at that point in the game where our bullpen was going to get all stretched out, so that was big what Chris did,” Kluber said. “He got a quick (five-pitch) first inning, which was very convenient and important because it allowed him to come back out for the next one.”

Kluber allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings, showing no signs of the sore hip that shortened his previous start in Minnesota. The right-hander remained unbeaten since July 2 with a 1-0 record and 2.67 ERA in five appearances.

Rangers starter Martin Perez allowed seven runs on eight hits, including two-run
singles by Drew Stubbs and Bourn. The left-hander exited before recording an out in the fourth.

Perez also pulled off a unique feat in the second by throwing back-to-back wild pitches immediately after pitching coach Mike Maddux visited the mound. The balls to the backstop led to runs by Brantley and Aviles.

Texas cut its deficit to 7-4 in the sixth when Cruz belted his 24th homer of the year, but Cabrera answered with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning off Rangers reliever Ross Wolf.

The Indians continued to have problems in the field, committing two more errors — both in the third — with Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland running the bases.

Kluber stabbed a grounder by Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, but threw it into center field while trying to force out Moreland at second. Martin followed with a fly out to left fielder Brantley, who threw a perfect strike to catcher Santana — only to have him drop the ball while attempting to tag Moreland.

Santana later drilled Martin in the helmet while attempting to stop him from stealing second base.

Texas made three errors with Cruz, Andrus, and Martin doing the honors. Left fielder Engel Beltre added another miscue when he was thrown out by Brantley trying to turn a single into a double.

Andrus singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak against the Indians to 35 games. It equals the longest-ever against the Tribe, matching Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. from 1992-96.

Kinsler collected two hits and four RBIs for the Rangers, while Martin banged out three hits from the bottom of the batting order.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.