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Indians continue wild-card chase with win

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- This time of the season, and especially given what's at stake, the Cleveland Indians aren't about to be picky.

"We'll take it any way we can," Indians manager Terry Francona said after his team beat the Houston Astros 2-1 in a rain-shortened game on Friday night.

It was the Indians' seventh win in their last nine games. The Astros have lost seven games in a row as their record fell to 51-103.

The game was called after a one-hour, nine-minute rain delay in the middle of the seventh inning.

Cleveland started play 1/2 game behind Texas and Tampa Bay in the race for two American League wild-card spots. Cleveland (84-70) moved ahead of Texas (83-70), which lost to Kansas City.

The rains turned Cleveland's game with Houston into a 6-1/2 inning game.

"The umpires talked to the league. There was no break. We were prepared to stay around as long as we had to, but the forecast was not good," Francona said.

Astros manager Bo Porter said, "We knew going into the game that the weather was possibly going to be a factor. There's nothing you can do about Mother Nature."

In addition to the assist from the weather, the Indians also got some help from the Astros defense, which committed three errors. Both of Cleveland's runs were unearned.

"Errors are a part of the game," Porter said. "We all know that. But at the same time, you expect those plays to be made in a major league baseball game."

The Indians made the most of Houston's defensive miscues.

"We didn't do a whole lot offensively, but we're going home with a win because we pitched," Francona said.

The win went to Indians starter Zach McAllister (9-9), who pitched only five innings, allowing one run and four hits with three strikeouts and one walk.

Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer (4-4) took the loss even though he did not give up an earned run in six innings. Oberholtzer held Cleveland to two unearned runs and four hits with two strikeouts and three walks.

"That's baseball," he said. "I understand they're a playoff team and it's a playoff atmosphere and they put pressure on us to make some plays and we just came up short. It's a tough loss."

Bryan Shaw pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his first save of the season.

McAllister retired the first five batters he faced, but with two outs in the top of the second, Brandon Laird belted a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his fourth home run of the season, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.

The Indians tied it in the bottom of second against Oberholtzer. Carlos Santana led off the inning with a single and went to second on an error by Laird at third on a grounder hit by Asdrubal Cabrera.

"It happens," Laird said. "I got caught in between with the ball right there."

Michael Brantley then singled to load the bases with one out. Mike Aviles hit a grounder to third that Laird bobbled. He recovered and tagged out Cabrera, but Santana scored to make it 1-1.

Cleveland took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a single, two walks and two more Houston errors.

Every win is big for Cleveland now, and McAllister said he and his teammates are enjoying playing big games in September.

"This is an exciting time of the year. To be where we are is awesome. You can't ask for anything better than this," McAllister said.

NOTES: The scoring percentage of Houston relievers' inherited runners (26.9 percent) is the second lowest in the American League behind Toronto's 24 percent. . . Astros C Jason Castro, who went on the disabled list Tuesday with discomfort in his right knee, underwent arthroscopic surgery on Thursday to remove a cyst. ... Indians RHP Justin Masterson had a successful 33-pitch bullpen session as he continues his rehab from a strained oblique that has sidelined him since Sept. 2. ... Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez's 2.45 ERA since May 27 is the second lowest in the AL during that span.

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