October 22, 2014

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Nyjer Morgan’s speed, power carry Indians past Rays

Cleveland Indians' Nyjer Morgan watches his solo home run hit off Tampa Bay Rays reliever Brandon Gomes during the eighth inning on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Cleveland Indians’ Nyjer Morgan watches his solo home run hit off Tampa Bay Rays reliever Brandon Gomes during the eighth inning on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nyjer Morgan used his speed to get two key infield hits early in the game. His rare long ball provided an important late run.

Morgan and Michael Bourn both drove in two runs, Josh Tomlin won his second straight start and the Cleveland Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 on Sunday.

“He always plays with energy,” Indians manager Terry Francona said about Morgan. “We were looking for a way to get him in there today and I’m glad we did.”

Morgan had an RBI infield single that rolled to a stop near the line between home and third before Bourn hit a two-run double as the Indians took a 3-1 lead in the second. Morgan also hit his first major league homer since July 30, 2012, an eighth-inning solo shot that made it 6-2.

“I had to get something out of the infield today,” a smiling Morgan said.

Tomlin (2-0), who pitched just once in the big leagues last season after right elbow surgery in 2012, allowed two runs and six hits over six innings in his second outing this year.

“The guys made the plays in the outfield and the infield, and that’s the reason I won a game,” Tomlin said.

Cleveland took two of three in the series after entering with a seven-game road skid.

“This is a tough place to play,” Francona said. “Finding a way to beat them here is great. I’ve sat in this chair too many times and been miserable.”

Matt Joyce homered and had two RBIs for the Rays, who went 1-5 on their homestand. Chris Archer (2-2) gave up four runs and eight hits in five-plus innings.

“I think very simply put, we’re not playing the caliber of baseball right now that is a winning caliber of baseball,” Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said.

A three-run eighth pulled the Rays to 6-5.

Ben Zobrist scored the first run in the inning when reliever Marc Rzepczynski made an errant throw to second on what could have been an inning-ending double play. Cody Allen allowed Wil Myers’ RBI single and hit Desmond Jennings with a pitch to load the bases. Yunel Escobar hit a sacrifice fly.

“I had plenty of time. … I rushed it,” Rzepczynski said. “When I get those, I get super excited. Throw better sinkers to second than I do home sometimes.”

Bryan Shaw pitched a perfect ninth in place of demoted closer John Axford for his second save.

Yan Gomes hit a leadoff homer that chased Archer during a two-run sixth that gave Cleveland a 5-2 advantage. Morgan reached on a bunt single off Brad Boxberger when a call was overturned on replay. Morgan advanced on a balk and wild pitch, then scored the inning’s second run on Mike Aviles’ sacrifice fly.

Joyce hit a first-inning solo homer off Tomlin. Joyce, who is 6-for-12 with two homers against the right-hander, had an RBI single in the fourth.

Cleveland threatened in the first but Michael Brantley was thrown out trying to score on Carlos Santana’s two-out double.

Santana went 2-for-3 with two walks and increased his batting average 12 points to .148. Brantley extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a third-inning single.

Notable

Francona tweaked his rotation for a three-game series at Toronto. RHP Danny Salazar (1-3) had his start pushed back to Thursday from Tuesday so that RHP Justin Masterson (2-1) and RHP Corey Kluber (3-3) can pitch Tuesday and Wednesday on normal rest.

* Tampa Bay RHP Jeremy Hellickson (arthroscopic right elbow surgery) hopes to resume throwing curveballs during bullpen sessions in a week.

* Indians 1B Nick Swisher was given the option by Francona to have a day off and took it.

* With the Rays’ road trip theme being “Woodstock,” manager Joe Maddon looked the part from the 1969 concert, wearing a long-hair wig, sun glasses and tie-dye shirt.

NEXT UP
WHO: Cleveland vs. Toronto
WHEN: Tuesday, 7:07 p.m.
WHERE: Rogers Centre, Toronto
PITCHERS: Masterson (2-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Dickey (3-3, 4.72)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM

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