CLEVELAND (AP)—Jhonny Peralta took a leisurely walk to first base and didn’t get any grief from his manager.
Peralta drew a bases-loaded walk off Seth McClung with one out in the ninth inning Friday night to give the Cleveland Indians a 2-1 win over the road-challenged Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the first team to lose 99 games and have a winning record at home.
Peralta, recently criticized by manager Eric Wedge for his sluggish and sloppy play this season at shortstop, took a 3-2 pitch that was inside as the Indians got the victory without putting a ball in play in the ninth.
Tampa Bay pitchers walked four in the inning.
“It was not too close,” Peralta said. “I tried to hit the ball. I know this year it has been a little hard for me for RBIs. I was trying to get him to home plate.”
The Devil Rays fell to 3-29 on the road since the All-Star break. They went 41-40 at home, and are just 20-59 in away games.
“The difference is drastic,” said Rocco Baldelli, whose 16th homer was Tampa Bay’s only run. “It’s a question we’ve been getting peppered with for quite a while. I can’t come up with a good reason. It is frustrating, though.”
Not only was their late pitching off the mark, the Devil Rays also went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and are 0-for-23 in the first two games of the series with a runner at second or third.
“It’s hard to imagine being that bad,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We haven’t been good all year, but it’s gotten worse recently.”
Jason Michaels walked to open the ninth off Dan Miceli (1-2), who compounded his problems by throwing a wild pitch. The right-hander then walked Victor Martinez before being replaced by McClung, who struck out Ryan Garko but walked Shin-Soo Choo.
Peralta, who drove in Cleveland’s other run with a single in the second, fell behind 1-2 before working the count full and then getting a free pass from McClung, who has 68 walks and 59 strikeouts in 103 innings.
“When you come into a situation like that you have to make perfect pitches,” McClung said. “When the game is tight, every mistake is bigger. I tried to make good pitches, they were just a little off.”
On ball four, the Indians stormed out of the dugout and gave Peralta the customary helmet pounding after his walk-off walk.
“It was a really good at-bat by Jhonny,” Michaels said. “The guy’s out there throwing 175 mph, bases loaded, full count, the crowd is screaming. That’s a professional at-bat.”
Baldelli has clobbered Cleveland pitching during his career, and his searing line drive over the wall in center off rookie Brian Slocum, tied it 1-1 in the fifth.
Baldelli, who matched his career high for homers set in 2004, is batting .370 (30-for-81) against the Indians.
Devil Rays rookie Brian Stokes limited the Indians to one run and five hits in a season-high seven innings. The right-hander, who got his first major league win against the New York Yankees in his previous start, walked one and struck out six.
Slocum, making his second career start, allowed one run and eight hits in six innings.
The Indians have won six of seven. … The Devil Rays are 3-31 on the road since July 1. … Indians OF Grady Sizemore’s 91 extra-base hits are a club record, lead the majors and are the most the Elias Sports Bureau could find for a leadoff hitter since at least 1957. … Tampa Bay also finished 2005 on the road in Cleveland. … Tampa Bay OF Carl Crawford has an AL-high 26 steals in 27 tries since the All-Star break. Only Juan Pierre of the Cubs (224) has more steals than Crawford (218) since the start of the 2003 season. … Stokes is one of nine Devil Rays to make their big-league debut this season. … Cleveland hadn’t won on a walk-off walk since Lou Merloni drew one in the 11th to beat Cincinnati on June 11, 2004.