Lofton’s sac fly leads Indians over Mariners 4-3 in 12 innings

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SEATTLE (AP)—The Cleveland Indians are not about to ease up even though they clinched the AL Central title Sunday for the first time since 2001. They still have something to accomplish.

The Indians, who blew a two-run lead in the ninth, recovered in the 12th inning for a 4-3 victory over Seattle on Tuesday night. After a wild pickoff attempt set up the go-ahead run, Kenny Lofton drove in Asdrubal Cabrera with a sacrifice fly and Rafael Betancourt pitched the 12th for his third save.

Cleveland (93-63) is just ahead of AL East-leading Boston (93-64) and AL West champion Los Angeles (92-66) for the best record in baseball.

“Every game is important to us,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We have to continue to work hard to get guys who need to play to get them sharper for the playoffs and give other guys time off. It’s a fine line but it’s the situation we’re in. We’re doing our best to walk that line.”

Cabrera opened the 12th with a four-pitch walk from Brandon Morrow (3-4). Ryan Rowland-Smith took over and his first move was a wild throw to first. The ball rolled up the right-field line and Cabrera easily reached third, before Lofton hit a first-pitch sacrifice fly to center.

“On the pickoff, he slipped,” McLaren said. “He had mud on his spikes. He slipped on his move to first base and the ball took off.”

Tom Mastny (7-2) gave up two hits and a walk in a scoreless 11th.

Adrian Beltre, who had three hits, tied the game at 3 in the ninth with a one-out, two-run homer off Indians closer Joe Borowski. Borowski, who has a league-leading 43 saves, had his seventh blown save.

“It happens. Borowski has been great for us,” Wedge said. “Every now and then they’ll clip you like that, but one think Joe does is he stops it right there and give his team a chance to come back. That’s a separator in and of itself.”

The Indians were given an early lead in the first inning on Victor Martinez’s three-run homer.

Martinez homered off Felix Hernandez following one-out singles by Chris Gomez and Travis Hafner. Martinez has 25 homers and 110 RBIs, both career highs, and is 8-for-15 against Seattle this season.

Then in the eighth, he fouled a ball off his right knee and left in the bottom of the inning with a bruise. Martinez believes he can play in one of Wednesday’s doubleheader games.

Seattle was eliminated from the postseason with the loss. They are 6 1/2 games behind the wild card-leading New York Yankees with just six games left. The Mariners are winless in 72 games when trailing after eight innings.

“It was great this year,” Mariners right fielder Jose Guillen said. “We played much better than two, three years ago. There has been a lot of improvements. I believe these guys are going to realize that they are not far away to winning. So let’s go get what we need and put the pieces in place and it could be different next year.”

Cleveland’s Aaron Laffey allowed one run and four hits over 5 2-3 innings in his eighth career start, helped by three double plays in the first five innings. Second baseman Josh Barfield also made a diving stop on a groundout in the fourth to save a run.

“Aaron really pitched well for us,” Wedge said. “We really lived off Victor’s home run until Asdrubal. The kid is in the middle of everything. He took a good chance not just getting to second base but third base. And Kenny did a hell of a job getting on top of a high fastball there to get the ball to the outfield.”

Seattle scored its first run on a double-play groundout by Kenji Johjima in the fifth.

Notes

Ichiro Suzuki had two hits hit in six at-bats. His .350 average is second to Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez (.359). … The Indians’ C.C. Sabathia, who was supposed to start Tuesday’s game, was pushed back to Friday against Kansas City … SS Yuniesky Betancourt, who has missed two straight starts because of a sore right elbow, will have a precautionary MRI on his the elbow Wednesday.

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