Stubbs' speed helps Indians edge Nationals

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- It wasn't the cleanest, most dramatic game-winning at bat of the year, but Jason Kipnis and the Cleveland Indians will take it.
Kipnis' fielder's choice groundball that he hit to first base with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning allowed Drew Stubbs to score from third base with the winning run as the Indians beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 at Progressive Field Friday night.
"Stubbs got a good break on the ball and he's fast," said Indians manager Terry Francona, whose team won its third game in a row.
After starters Justin Masterson and Gio Gonzalez pitched to a seven-inning standoff, the Indians broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the ninth.
With one out, Stubbs singled and raced to third on a single to right field by Michael Bourn off reliever Fernando Abad. Kipnis then hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Adam LaRoche, but Stubbs beat LaRoche's throw home to score the winning run.
"I was hoping it got through, but LaRoche made a great play," said Kipnis. "Fortunately Stubby made it home and got in there."
Stubbs said he was going on contact.
"It's the chance you take. I was hoping it was a hit, or I could beat the ball home," he said.
The win went to reliever Joe Smith (3-0), the third of three Cleveland pitchers, who combined on a two-hitter.
Both starting pitchers were brilliant, but neither figured in the decision. Masterson gave up one run and two hits with 10 strikeouts and four walks. Gonzalez allowed one run and three hits with eight strikeouts and four walks.
"Two ace-of-the-staff type guys, and it was everything that it was billed as," said Stubbs. "We were fortunate enough to come out on top."
Washington's two hits were both singles, by Ryan Zimmerman in the first inning and by Steve Lomardozzi in the third inning, when the Nationals scored their only run.
Lombardozzi's hit came after a leadoff walk by Kurt Suzuki. A sacrifice bunt by Denard Span moved the runners to second and third, and a walk by Roger Bernadina loaded the bases. Masterson then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Suzuki to score the first run of the game.
After the third inning, Masterson and relievers Cody Allen and Smith then held Washington scoreless and hitless over the last six innings.
"Masterson had a really good slider tonight and other than that one inning he was very good," said Francona.
Masterson ended five of the first six innings with a strikeout in his first home start since going 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA in two starts on the Indians' last road trip.
Cleveland threatened in the sixth when Gonzalez walked the bases loaded. But Mark Reynolds, who leads the team in RBIs with 42 and is hitting .400 with the bases loaded this season, popped out to second to end the inning.
Gonzalez came into the game having not won a game since May 5. In six starts since then, he was 0-1 despite a 2.27 ERA and opponents' batting average of .194.
Gonzalez dominated the Indians in the early going, striking out five of six batters in one stretch from the first to the third innings.
"Everyone talks about his breaking ball, but he beat us up with his fastball, up. We just couldn't catch up to it," said Francona.
The Indians tied it on a home run by Ryan Raburn in the fourth, Raburn's third home run in 13 career at-bats against Gonzalez.
"We show signs of swinging the bat really great and then we go back to this kind of haze," said Manager Davey Johnson.
NOTES: Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann, who is tied for second in the majors in wins with a record of 9-3, will make his first career start against the Indians on Saturday night. ... Stephen Strasburg (right lat strain) is expected to be activated off the disabled list and start Sunday for the Nationals. ... Indians closer Chris Perez threw a bullpen session on Friday and is expected to begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Sunday. Perez has been on the disabled list since May 27 with right shoulder soreness. The Indians haven't missed Perez; they have gone 16 consecutive games without a save opportunity heading into Friday.