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Indians claim fourth straight win

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians continue to quietly hang around the wild-card race in the American League, and the 9-4 win over the New York Mets on Saturday night was their fourth in a row as they attempt to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007.

"This is such a great opportunity for us," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We're nearing the middle of September and every time we win we get closer to where we want to be. This is an opportunity for us to shine."

Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera belted home runs and right-hander Corey Kluber won his first start after a one-month stay on the disabled list.

Swisher's solo homer, his second home run in as many days, gave Cleveland a 6-1 second-inning lead. After the Mets cut the margin to 6-4, Cabrera blasted a three-run homer in the seventh inning.

"We just keep winning. That's our thing," Swisher said. "This is the grind. This is the push. It's been awhile since this team was in the postseason. We want to make the most of this opportunity."

In five innings, Kluber (8-5) gave up two runs and five hits with five strikeouts and one walk. He was activated from the disabled list before the game. He had been on the DL since Aug. 6 with a sprained right middle finger.

"He looked pretty much like he hadn't missed a day," Francona said. "He was a little bit rusty with his fastball location, but he held his velocity. For a layoff like that, that was outstanding."

Trailing 6-1, the Mets rallied for three runs in the sixth, most of the damage coming after Kluber was removed from the game after he walked Eric Young leading off the inning.

Rich Hill relieved Kluber and struck out the next two batters, but after Hill walked Lucas Duda, he was relieved by Vinnie Pestano. He gave up a two-run double to Justin Turner and an RBI single to Juan Lagares that cut the Indians' lead to 6-4.

Cabrera's three-run homer the next inning, which snapped his 0-for-19 drought, came off reliever Scott Atchison.

"Swish looks like he's starting to swing it. And now Cabby," Francona said. "It would be great to get both of them hot right now."

The loss went to Mets starter Jonathon Niese (6-7), who came into the game with a record of 3-0 and a 2.68 ERA in his last six starts. Niese pitched six innings, giving up six runs (five earned) and nine hits. He struck out five and walked two.

"The only bad pitch he threw was the ball to Swisher in the second inning," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He settled down and used the breaking ball better and threw his off-speed pitches much more effectively than he did in the first inning."

Cleveland jumped on Niese for five runs on six hits while sending nine batters to the plate in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn singled, stole second and scored on a double by Swisher.

Jason Kipnis laid down a sacrifice bunt and was safe at first on a throwing error by Niese. Carlos Santana singled home Swisher to make it 2-0. Yan Gomes singled, loading the bases with one out. Cabrera flied out to shallow right field, but Ryan Raburn cleared the bases with a three-run double into the gap in right center, stretching the lead to 5-0.

"It was a tough first inning, but our offense did a good job of battling to keep us in the game," Niese said.

The Mets cut the lead to 5-1 on Matt den Dekker's two-out RBI single in the second, but Swisher got the run back in the bottom of the inning by belting his 17th home run over the left-field wall.

NOTES: Mets OF Juan Lagares has 12 outfield assists. That ties the Mets' rookie record set by Tsuyoshi Shinjo in 2001. ... Mets reliever David Aardsma has stranded all 14 of his inherited runners, the most in the majors. ... Cleveland's 3.30 team ERA since the All-Star break is the second lowest in the American League and the fourth lowest in the majors. ... RHP Danny Salazar, who will start for the Indians on Sunday, has 37 strikeouts in his first six major-league starts -- the most by an Indians pitcher in the last 57 years.
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