Indians 6, Mariners 5
The Indians had just two position players on their bench—catcher Josh Bard and Hernandez. The veteran Hernandez came through.
“With the experience he’s had, he’s been through so many situations, you know he’s going to go up there and give you a good at-bat,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s what he did.”
Jeff Liefer led off the eighth with a double to center off J.J. Putz (4-4). Phillips pinch ran and moved to third on Aaron Boone’s sacrifice bunt. Jeff Nelson struck out Casey Blake, but Hernandez—hitting for lefty Ben Broussard — grounded a single to left off lefty Ron Villone to score Phillips.
Hernandez is 3-for-9 as a pinch hitter with two RBIs, and is hitting .336 against left-handers this year.
“The way I’ve been swinging the bat, they gave me a chance in that situation and I came through,” Hernandez said.
Cleveland led 5-2 entering the seventh and starter Cliff Lee appeared on his way to his 12th win, when a misplayed infield fly fueled a three-run inning for Seattle.
With one out, Miguel Olivo’s pop up nearly hit second base after Ronnie Belliard, the second baseman, and shortstop Jhonny Peralta let the ball fall between them. The play was scored as a hit after the miscommunication.
“I wasn’t saying nothing, and he wasn’t saying nothing,” Belliard said.
“I got ahead of him and just made a mistake,” Sauerbeck said. “I hung it and he crushed it.”
Bobby Howry (6-2) got the last out of the seventh and pitched the eighth for the win. Bob Wickman worked the ninth for his 26th save, a day after blowing one in the Indians’ 5-4 loss in Oakland.
Olivo added a solo homer in the third, into the second deck in left, as Seattle scored twice.
Meche left after the third with tightness in his throwing shoulder. Meche had rotator cuff surgery on the shoulder during the 2001 season and missed all of 2002.
“It was kind of a dead feeling. I don’t know how to explain it,” Meche said. “I had nothing on the ball. I couldn’t do anything on the mound.”
He gave up four hits and three runs, and struggled with his control, walking three. Meche threw 66 pitches, and lasted three innings for the second time this year. He gave up five earned runs and seven hits against Kansas City on July 5.
“He couldn’t get loose,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said.
Lee allowed a runner to reach scoring position in each of the first three innings, but Seattle couldn’t come up with a two-out hit. Lee scattered nine hits and struck out five.
Lee has never lost to Seattle (4-0), and beat the Mariners last Saturday.
“I felt good with how I pitched,” Lee said. “I could have pitched longer in the game and got a few more outs, but we ended up winning.”
Cuban infielder Yuniesky Betancourt was called up from Triple-A Tacoma and started at second base for Seattle. Betancourt tripled to the wall in left-center on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat.
“Once I hit the ball I was just running,” Betancourt said through an interpreter. “I didn’t feel anything. I was just trying to run.”
Betancourt is the first player to triple for his first major league hit since San Francisco’s Yorvit Torrealba against Arizona on Sept. 5, 2001.
Suzuki leads the American League with 10 triples. … Seattle’s Richie Sexson reached base safely in seven straight appearances before flying out in the fifth. He had four walks, two homers and a single. The team record is 11 straight appearances by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989, and Ibanez last year.