CLEVELAND (AP)—A different city, venue and sport produced yet another memorable Cleveland victory over Detroit.
One night after LeBron James single-handedly shot the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers to a double-overtime playoff win in Detroit, the Indians summoned all they had against one of the best closers in baseball.
“That was a crazy one,” said Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez, whose three-run homer got Cleveland within one in the ninth.
Jones (1-3) blew his second straight save opportunity as the reeling Tigers lost for the seventh time in eight games and fell 4 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.
“I got pounded,” Jones said. “We needed a win against these guys. We needed a win for ourselves and I didn’t get it done. I just got crushed.”
The Indians, 15-4 in the division, improved baseball’s best home record to 19-4. That’s the best start at home in Cleveland’s 107 years in the American League.
“An incredible win,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Everybody stepped up.”
Roberto Hernandez (3-1) pitched 1-3 of an inning for the win.
The Tigers led 11-7 before Martinez’s three-run shot—his second home run of the game—made it 11-10.
“When Vic hit that one, we all thought we had a shot,” said Indians first baseman Ryan Garko, who had three hits. “That was the turning point. It’s what Vic does. He’s the heart of the team.”
After striking out Garko, Jones intentionally walked Trot Nixon, putting the winning run aboard. Josh Barfield poked a single to right that fell just in front of Magglio Ordonez, scoring Rouse to tie it.
“I felt like he had a better chance to get the young right-handed hitter out and he didn’t do it,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of his decision to walk Nixon.
Dellucci then lined a 2-1 pitch to center and was pounded by jubilant teammates.
“To finish a game like this, I’m just happy to be part of it,” said Dellucci, who got a standing ovation from the first sellout crowd of the season at Jacobs Field.
Jones came on in the eighth and yielded an RBI single to Nixon. Barfield followed with a single, and Garko scored from second to make it 9-7 when center fielder Curtis Granderson threw the ball all the way to the backstop for an error.
Dellucci then hit a sinking liner to right that would have tied it, but Ordonez made a sliding catch to end the rally.
Polanco and Casey put Detroit ahead 2-0 with RBI singles in the first, and singles by Ordonez, Casey and Rabelo made it 3-0 in the fourth.
Martinez, who drove in four runs, hit his 10th homer to get Cleveland within 3-1 in the bottom half of the inning.
Peralta hit his 11th homer to make it 5-3. Garko then singled and Michaels, swinging on a 3-0 count, hit his third homer into the left-field seats.
The last time Cleveland scored five runs in the ninth to win a game was July 28, 2002, when Jim Thome hit a walkoff grand slam against Detroit. … Tigers DH Gary Sheffield went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He was suspended three games for throwing his bat and being ejected Thursday night, but is eligible to play pending an appeal. … Martinez has at least one RBI in eight consecutive games, one shy of the Indians record shared by Al Rosen, Juan Gonzalez and Manny Ramirez. … Indians RHP Jake Westbrook, out since May 3 with an abdominal strain, allowed seven hits, four earned runs and made an error over 1 1-3 innings in his first rehab start at Triple-A Buffalo.