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Indians 6, Rays 3

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Mike Aviles' three-run homer in the seventh inning gave Corey Kluber all the cushion he would need on Friday as the Cleveland Indians came back to win their fourth in a row, 6-3, over the flailing Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Cleveland abused the Rays bullpen for five runs in the decisive seventh, the biggest blow coming on a two-out, three-run shot by the second baseman, who was pressed into the lineup by a late-April injury to All-Star Jason Kipnis.

Indians left fielder Michael Brantley's seventh homer of the season, leading off against reliever Joel Peralta (1-3), had tied the game, 2-2. Cleveland then got a walk from third baseman Carlos Santana and a single from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to chase Peralta, and catcher Yan Gomes singled home the go-ahead run off Brandon Gomes. Aviles reached left-field stands with his second homer of the season for a 6-2 lead.

Indians starting pitcher Kluber (3-3) allowed just two earned runs on nine hits with nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. While the Rays bullpen was torched, ruining a solid effort from starter Jake Odorizzi, three Cleveland pitchers combined to allow just three hits and a run over the final 2 1/3 innings. The ninth inning was an adventure, however, as John Axelrod allowed two doubles -- one from Rays DH David DeJesus to score a run -- and two walks as the Rays trimmed the margin to 6-3. Right-hander Cody Allen entered with the bases loaded and retired first baseman James Loney for the final out and his first save of the season.

Cleveland improved to 17-19 as the Rays (15-21) lost for the fourth straight game and fell the furthest under .500 of any point this season.

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a sacrifice lineout to left field by Loney. DeJesus, who led off with a double and took third on a groundout, scored on Loney's 18th RBI of the season.

DeJesus helped the Rays jump ahead 2-0 in the fifth by driving in his 10th run of the season with a single to left, scoring left fielder Matt Joyce, who led off with a single.

Odorizzi worked out of jams in the first, third, fourth and fifth, stranding runners with the help of six of his 11 strikeouts to that point.

Odorizzi whiffed two batters to end the first after an error by shortstop Yunel Escobar put runners on first and second, then struck out two batters in the third after center fielder Michael Bourn led off with a triple.

Odorizzi struck out Aviles to end the fourth with runners on first and third. And after first baseman Nick Swisher doubled with one out and third baseman Carlos Santana walked with two down, he struck out his second batter in the fifth -- right fielder David Murphy -- to escape again.

Odorizzi allowed no runs, five hits and two walks in five innings but left after throwing 101 pitches.

Cleveland broke through against reliever Brad Boxberger in the sixth on shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera's third homer of the season, but after the right-hander allowed two more baserunners, left-hander Jake McGee entered to retire the side.

NOTES: Rays CF Desmond Jennings, coming off a 1-for-15 slog in a three-game series sweep by the Baltimore Orioles, was replaced in the starting lineup by Brandon Guyer on Friday against Cleveland. ... Indians 2B Jason Kipnis (15-day disabled list, strained right oblique) has been cleared to commence "low-level" activity such as swinging a bat this weekend. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon won his fifth challenge in 14 attempts, having an out call against 2B Ben Zobrist at first base overturned and taking away an Indians double play in the first inning.
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