ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Cleveland Indians used every pitcher in their bullpen and every defensive trick in the book to hold off the Los Angeles Angels while the innings stretched deep into the night.
After an unlikely power source finally ended Cleveland’s offensive slumber, the Indians‘ pitching and defense came through one last time in a win worth staying up late to see.
Drew Stubbs hit a two-run homer in the 14th inning, and the Indians outlasted the Angels 4-1 Tuesday night to gain ground in the AL playoff race.
Carlos Santana hit a tying homer in the seventh for the Indians, who managed just four hits in the first 12 innings.
But with 13 consecutive scoreless innings thrown by nine pitchers, Cleveland pulled within 5½ games of AL Central leader Detroit and 3½ games of wild-card leader Oakland after both teams lost earlier.
“We were grinding all night,” Stubbs said. “Ultimately, pitching and defense wins games. If they don’t score, you don’t lose.”
Lonnie Chisenhall got the Indians going with a one-out single in the 14th off Joe Blanton (2-14), the Angels’ seventh pitcher. Stubbs, the Indians‘ No. 9 hitter, was 0 for 4 with a walk before connecting for his first homer since July 4.
Michael Bourn then singled and scored from second on Blanton’s throwing error, adding another cushion for Carlos Carrasco (1-4), who pitched the final two innings. He set off cheers from a small group of hearty fans behind Cleveland’s dugout when he got Chris Nelson on a comebacker with two runners on to end the 5-hour, 17-minute game.
“We weren’t giving in,” said Bourn, who made a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the 12th to rob Hank Conger of a sure game-ending hit. “It’s easy to give in at that time when it’s 14 or 15 innings, but we really wanted to win.”
Manager Terry Francona praised his team’s tenacity, even while reminding his players they had to be back at Angel Stadium in roughly 12 hours for the series finale.
“That was just a really fun game to be a part of,” Francona said. “There wasn’t much offense going on, but both teams came to play. The guys kept playing. It’s easy to lose focus or get tired in a situation like that, but they gave us a chance to keep playing.”
The Indians‘ excitement was matched by the misery of the Angels’ latest indignity in their awful season. Los Angeles, which has lost eight of 10, stranded 17 runners — 13 after the sixth inning, including two in the final frame.
J.B. Shuck hit a leadoff homer more than five hours before the final out, but the Angels couldn’t score again despite 12 hits, striking out a season-high 18 times and going 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. The Angels repeatedly were one hit away from a sure victory — and every time, the Indians snatched it away.
“The less games we have like this in the future, the better,” said C.J. Wilson, who pitched into the eighth inning of a superb start. “This is a crushing loss, especially the way our relievers came in for the first couple of extra innings and did well.”
Both teams had ample opportunities to score late, and the Indians made several remarkable escapes.
Wilson and reliever Dane De La Rosa walked the bases loaded in the eighth, but De La Rosa struck out Yan Gomes to end it. Josh Hamilton then got picked off second base in the eighth, preventing Kole Calhoun’s single from driving him home moments later.
The Angels stranded two more runners in the ninth when Asdrubal Cabrera made an impressive play on Erick Aybar’s grounder at shortstop to force extra innings.
Hamilton, Mark Trumbo and Calhoun loaded the bases with nobody out in the 10th, but relievers Matt Albers, Rich Hill and Bryan Shaw each got one out, with Shaw striking out Grant Green.
The Angels then got two runners on with two outs in the 12th, but Bourn leaped to rob Conger, glancing off the center-field wall as he landed.
The Angels outpitched the Indians‘ group until they got to Blanton, who leads the AL with 29 homers allowed in his miserable season — even though he lost his spot in Los Angeles’ rotation last month.
Wilson yielded four hits and struck out five, but rookie Danny Salazar pitched three-hit ball into the sixth inning in his fourth major league start for Cleveland, and his bullpen was impenetrable.
“We just didn’t come through with those opportunities that we had,” Wilson said. “That’s the most frustrating part of the game, because we wouldn’t have played so many innings if we scored one more run.”
Mike Trout sat out his second straight game for Los Angeles, resting his tight right hamstring.
Wilson kept the Indians down until Santana led off the seventh with his 15th homer. Peter Bourjos lost his glove over the wall while trying to make the catch — so the Angels’ center fielder scaled the wall, leaped over to get the glove back and climbed back onto the field.
Los Angeles’ much-maligned bullpen retired 10 straight batters before Santana drew a two-out walk in the 13th and hustled to third on Gomes’ single to left, but Cabrera flied out.
NOTES: Trout got hurt during Sunday’s loss to Houston, forcing him to miss consecutive games for the first time in the past two seasons. The All-Star outfielder had skipped just one game all season before this series. … Angels C Chris Iannetta snapped an 0-for-13 skid with a seventh-inning single, but Bourjos went hitless in six at-bats to drop to 0 for 18 since his return from a broken right wrist.