“I haven’t played a game like that in a long time,” Vizquel said. “A great pitching duel and then a big comeback win. It’s a special feeling.”
The Indians handed Mulder (6-2) his first loss since April 14.
“Omar was the star of this game,” said Burks, who tied it with a two-run homer in the sixth inning and singled home Vizquel with the go-ahead run.
Vizquel lined a two-out single to center in the eighth with the score tied at 2. He stole second on the first pitch to Burks and scored when the Indians’ designated hitter lined a single off the glove of diving first baseman Scott Hatteberg.
“I didn’t pay attention to the runner,” Mulder admitted. “I was really focusing on the guy at the plate.”
Vizquel said he figured that was the left-hander’s mind-set on the mound.
“I thought he would be worried about Ellis and decided to go on the first pitch,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘I need to get there, no matter what.’ It was a little gamble that paid off.”
Indians starter C.C. Sabathia matched Mulder for seven innings. The 22-year-old left-hander struck out a season-high eight and allowed two runs and four hits—including home runs by Ramon Hernandez and Miguel Tejada.
“This was a big game, a big win,” Sabathia said. “I figured if I could keep it close, we might pull it out.”
Sabathia had no idea of the outcome until his jubilant teammates bounded through the clubhouse doors.
“I just can’t watch, so when I leave a game, I just come in and ice my arm,” said Sabathia, who left with the score tied thanks to his two veteran teammates.
With two outs in the sixth, Vizquel beat out a slow roller to third for a single. Burks followed with a high arching shot 409 feet into the left-field bleachers on a 1-1 pitch for his sixth homer.
Mulder compiled a 1.07 ERA during his five-game winning streak and was nearly as impressive against Cleveland. The left-hander got 14 outs on groundballs over the first seven innings, but lost for just the second time in his last 14 decisions.
He allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out four in eight innings, his fourth complete game of the year.
“Mark pitched extremely well,” said Oakland manager Ken Macha, who visited the mound after Vizquel singled in the eighth. “I asked him how he felt and he said outstanding.
“I thought about walking Burks, but the guy behind him is hitting .500 against lefties.”
That was outfielder Milton Bradley, who went 1-for-2 with a walk.
Oakland, which won 11 of its previous 13 games, must win the final two games of the three-game set to capture its ninth straight series.
The Athletics had won eight in a row against the Indians.
“They really had our number, so this one was special,” Burks said.
Hernandez hit an 0-1 pitch into the bleachers in right-center for his fourth homer and a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
Tejada made it 2-0 in the sixth. The 2002 AL MVP stepped to the plate with just a .207 average, but lined an 0-1 pitch just over the wall in left for hisninth homer.
Vizquel’s stolen base was his 255th as a member of the Indians, passing Terry Turner for second in team history. … Sabathia has allowed just four earned runs over his last 22 innings (1.64 ERA). … Burks’ two RBIs gave him 1,201 for his career. … Burks is hitting .333 (6-for-16) with two homers in his career against Mulder. … Oakland fell to 9-11 on the road. … The Indians announced that a May 1 rainout against Anaheim has been rescheduled forAug. 9 at 7:05 p.m.