Cubs 12, Indians 8
CLEVELAND (AP)—Henry Blanco was happy to be back in his own personal comfort zone—Jacobs Field.
Blanco went 3-for-4 to raise his career average at Jacobs Field to .436 (17-for-39). He’s hitting .238 overall this season.
“This is a good place to hit,” Blanco said. “I see the ball well here.”
Rookie Sean Marshall (4-5) gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings before a 73-minute rain delay in the top of the sixth. The left-hander earned his first road win since April 14.
The Cubs, coming off an 0-6 homestand in which they were outscored 43-17, won their fourth straight on the road. Cleveland has lost four in a row, 12 of 16 overall and dropped 15 games back in the AL Central.
“We’ve done a very poor job,” manager Eric Wedge said of the Indians’ ninth consecutive loss to open a series. “We recognize how bad things are right now, but good ballclubs find a way to overcome and win.”
Blanco, facing the Indians for the first time since hitting .396 (13-for-41) against them while with Minnesota in 2004, snapped a 3-3 tie in the fourth with a three-run homer off Jason Johnson (3-8).
The veteran came in with a .218 career average but a .320 mark against Cleveland. He is expected to be the Cubs’ primary catcher while starter Michael Barrett serves a 10-game suspension that began Monday.
“He was hitting the ball,” Blanco said of Barrett, who had hit .404 in 12 games in June. “We’ll try to keep it going. I’m here to back him up. I’m getting a chance to get some playing time and I need to take advantage of it.”
After opening the season 2-for-39 (.051), Blanco has batted .542 (13-for-24) during a seven-game hitting streak.
The Indians caught a break just before Blanco delivered. With two on and one out, Freddie Bynum’s sharp grounder hit baserunner Ronny Cedeno between first and second. Bynum got credit for a hit, but Cedeno was out.
Blanco then hit a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left for a 6-3 lead.
“I hung a slider and it’s a pitch I wish I had back,” Johnson said of the eighth homer he has allowed in his last six starts.
Johnson lost his fourth straight start and is 1-7 with a 7.38 ERA in 11 starts since April 18.
“It’s really frustrating, probably the worst time I’ve gone through in my career,” he said. “I’m healthy. It’s just in my head. I want to go out and win, but I’m not pitching up to my capabilities.”
Jacque Jones opened the Cubs’ second by hitting an 0-1 pitch the opposite way to left for his 13th homer and a 1-0 lead.
In the third, Blanco singled and Pierre followed with an RBI triple down the first-base line. Pierre scored on a sacrifice fly by Todd Walker to make it 3-0.
Cleveland tied it with two homers in the bottom half.
With two outs, Eduardo Perez hit his eighth of the season—all off left-handers. After Jhonny Peralta walked, Travis Hafner launched a drive into the mezzanine section in right field that has been nicknamed “Pronkville” in his honor. The 461-foot drive was his 19th of the season and major league-leading 10th off a lefty.
Peralta hit his seventh homer on a 1-0 pitch with one out in the fifth to make it 6-4.
Pierre hit a two-run single off Fernando Cabrera in the sixth and Phil Nevin added a two-run homer off Jeremy Guthrie in the seventh to make it 10-4. It was Nevin’s fifth drive of the season and the 200th of his career.
Cleveland leads the all-time series between the teams, 6-3. … The Indians have lost nine consecutive series-opening games since winning May 19 against Pittsburgh. … Johnson gave up six runs (three earned) over five innings as his ERA went down to 5.96. … John Mabry became the 22nd different DH used by the Cubs since interleague play began in 1997.