Indians 10, Tigers 8
CLEVELAND (AP)—Once the Cleveland Indians came back, their fans followed.
Down 5-0 before their first at-bat, the Indians rallied for six runs in the bottom of the first, with Casey Blake’s RBI double capping the comeback. As the Indians took the field for the top of the second, the small but appreciative crowd gave them a rousing ovation that lasted more than a minute.
“We felt it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said of the warm response. “Everyone felt it. It was almost a confirmation of what these guys are doing.”
The Indians, who went 9-14 in April, have won 10 of 12 and are a league-best 19-7 in August. They’ve moved into a small group of teams chasing the AL wild card heading into the season’s final month.
However, the turnaround hasn’t seemed to capture the imagination of Cleveland fans, who are staying away in large numbers. Attendance was announced as 22,713, but 5,000 tickets were giveaways.
Still, the ones that came to Jacobs Field made an impression on the Indians, who rewarded them and moved within seven games of first-place Chicago in the AL Central.
“I was proud of the way we came back,” Blake said. “We could have just said, ‘Well, this one’s over.’ But the way this team has been playing lately and the confidence we have, we refuse to give in.”
Rookie Fernando Cabrera (2-0) cleaned up after Indians starter Scott Elarton, allowing one run in 2 2-3 innings. Rafael Betancourt pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings and Bob Howry worked a perfect eighth.
Bob Wickman pitched the ninth for his league-leading 35th save in 40 attempts.
Wickman, who walks a tightrope almost every time out, gave up a one-out single to Magglio Ordonez and walked Carlos Pena with two outs. The right-hander got Craig Monroe to hit a grounder to third baseman Aaron Boone, whose throw to second nipped pinch-runner Nook Logan for the final out.
Broussard hit an RBI triple in the first off Jeremy Bonderman (14-11) and Blake had three hits for Cleveland.
Dmitri Young hit a grand slam and Pena homered as the Tigers took a 5-0 lead in the first before letting it slip away.
“A lot of things aren’t going our way,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “You score that many runs in the first inning and then give up six, it’s depleting and it takes its toll on you.”
Crisp and Peralta hit RBI doubles and Victor Martinez’s sacrifice fly sparked Cleveland’s first-inning rally, which was helped by Detroit shortstop Omar Infante’s fielding error. Broussard followed the miscue with an RBI triple and Boone’s run-scoring infield single tied it at 5.
Blake then delivered a shot into the gap in right-center, scoring Boone. Blake was thrown out in a rundown between second and third, but by then the Indians had begun turning their night around.
“I’m not getting the job done,” said Bonderman, 1-5 in his past six starts. “I get five runs and then give up six. It’s terrible.”
Trailing 7-6, the Indians scored three times in the fourth to chase Bonderman, who was making his first start since being struck on the right wrist with a line drive hit by Oakland’s Marco Scutaro.
Cleveland loaded the bases and Crisp’s sacrifice fly tied it 7-all. Peralta hit an RBI single and Travis Hafner, who has 19 RBIs in 24 games since coming off the DL, hit a sac fly to center.
Monroe’s two-run single gave Detroit a 7-5 lead in the third.
Detroit closed within 9-8 in the fifth on Young’s RBI double off Cabrera, but Broussard restored Cleveland’s two-run cushion off Vic Darensbourg with his 11th homer, only his second off a left-hander.
Young’s second slam in three days gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead in the first off Elarton, who hurt himself with two walks. Detroit’s dugout was still high-fiving Young when Pena hit Elarton’s next pitch over the wall in center for his 10th homer.
Elarton has just one win in his last nine starts, and has given up 14 runs in his last two. … Hafner came in with a .317 average, eight points behind league leader Johnny Damon. The last Cleveland player to win a batting title was Bobby Avila in 1954. … Pena has 11 career homers in 26 games at Jacobs Field. … The Tigers have 22 homers in their past 12 games. … The Indians have had at least 10 hits in 19 of 31 games. … Elarton has allowed 28 homers, the league’s second-highest total behind New York’s Randy Johnson (29).