CINCINNATI (AP)—The Indians’ bullpen had some help throwing another one away.
Third baseman Casey Blake’s wild throw helped Cincinnati tie it in the eighth against Cleveland’s leaky bullpen, and Tim Hummel’s run-scoring single in the 11th inning gave the Reds a 5-4 victory Sunday.
“When the run scored, it seemed like it was more than a celebration,” said Hummel, who drove in Ken Griffey Jr. “Everybody was relieved.”
Not the Indians, who have seen it happen all too often.
Griffey led off the 11th with a single and advanced on Adam Dunn’s groundout. Barry Larkin was intentionally walked, and Hummel singled up the middle with two outs, prompting White to smack the ground in frustration.
Cleveland has played 17 extra-inning games, the most in the majors, and lost 11 of them.
“We just play a lot of close ballgames,” said starter Jake Westbrook, who allowed only one run in 6 2-3 innings. “That’s kind of the way it works out.”
A combustible bullpen is usually to blame. Cleveland has only 13 saves, fewest in the AL, in 30 chances.
“We’ve played a lot of extra-inning games,” manager Eric Wedge said. “This one shouldn’t have come to that.”
Blake’s second error of the game was as much to blame as the bullpen.
Blake caught it cleanly, paused and let fly with a soft throw that sailed over Ben Broussard’s head, pulling him off first base. The error tied it at four.
“I just feel sick to my stomach,” said Blake, who leads the team with 13 errors. “It was a mistake. I was just staying calm and easing it over there. In that situation, I’ve got to come up and be a man and throw it, be aggressive.”
Griffey returned to the Reds lineup after missing five starts because of a sore calf, and wound up scoring the winning run. He had two singles in six at-bats, leaving him 5-for-35 since he hit his 500th homer on June 20.
Griffey also had the game’s most thunderous at-bat. When he got to the plate in the sixth, two fighter jets in the area for Fourth of July celebrations flew low overhead. Griffey quickly backed away, and the crowd of 30,375 responded to the jets with a loud ovation.
In two starts since returning from a sore elbow, Harang has allowed only one run in 11 innings. He was scheduled to start against the Indians on Friday, but the Reds pushed him back two days.
The Indians headed home still looking to emerge from their break-even rut.
After opening the season in a free fall because their undependable bullpen, they righted themselves with one of the AL’s top rotations and one of the league’s most productive lineups.
The loss Sunday left them 39-41. They’ve gotten to .500 four times in the last two weeks, only to fall back every time.
“With a few breaks here or there, I think we’re in first place by a couple of games,” Lawton said. “We can’t seem to turn the corner. I hope we can soon.”
The Indians have been a factor in the Reds’ slide from first place. They led the NL Central by 2 1/2 games in early June, then through a 10-15 stretch that includes four losses to Cleveland.
The Reds reached the season’s midpoint at 44-37, five games behind St. Louis in the NL Central with a week left before the All-Star break.
“The All-Star break is when everybody wants to evaluate where they are,”Hummel said. “In the next seven games, we’ll see where we really are.”
The Indians lead the intrastate series 19-14 overall. … In his 13 starts this season, Westbrook is 7-3 with a 3.29 ERA. … 1B Sean Casey was out of the Reds lineup for the sixth straight game because of a strained calf. The Reds put him on the DL after the game, and plan to call up C Corky Miller from Triple-A Louisville on Monday. … Reds OF Ryan Freel matched his career high with four hits. … When the videoboard’s “Kiss Cam” focused on the Indians’ dugout before the top of the eighth, Omar Vizquel pecked pitcher Cliff Lee onthe cheek, drawing laughs and applause.
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