Cleveland’s recent offensive surge has helped the team to its longest winning streak of the young season.
The Indians will try for their fifth straight victory on Thursday when they wrap up a two-game series with the Texas Rangers at Jacobs Field.
Cleveland (11-7) has scored 26 runs to win its last four games, including Wednesday’s 11-inning, 8-7 win over Texas. The Indians last won four straight games at the end of 2006, before starting this season with two victories.
Cleveland’s last five-game winning streak in a single season came Aug. 28-Sept. 2 last year.
Wednesday’s game kicked off an eight-game homestand for the Indians, who were coming off a 4-4 road trip. Jhonny Peralta hit the game-winning RBI single in the 11th, and all but one of Cleveland’s starters picked up at least one hit.
Travis Hafner, who has been the team’s offensive sparkplug, singled in a run in the fourth inning. He is batting .529 (18-for-34) with four homers and 10 RBIs over his last nine games.
Cleveland and Texas (8-12) combined for 32 strikeouts, with the Rangers fanning a team-record 19 times.
“We struck out 19 guys?” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “This was not your usual run-of-the-mill ballgame.”
Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson each struck out four times for the Rangers, who had allowed just eight total runs in their previous three games. On the positive side, Sammy Sosa and Ian Kinsler each had three RBIs as Texas came back from a 6-0 deficit to force extra innings.
“It hurts to battle back like that and lose at the end,” said shortstop Michael Young, who was 3-for-6 with two runs and an RBI. “We have to be more consistent. You can’t pat yourself on the back for coming back if you didn’t play well the first two innings.”
Sosa hit the top of the left-field wall in the sixth, just missing becoming the first player to homer in 44 major-league stadiums. Jacobs Field is one of three current ballparks in which Sosa, who has four hits in his last two games, is homerless.
The Rangers will send Kameron Loe (1-0, 3.29 ERA) to the mound for Thursday’s finale. He made his first start since June 18 on Saturday, and allowed just three singles in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-0 win over Oakland.
Loe, who spent the second half of last season in the minors, was beaten out by Jamey Wright for the fifth spot in the rotation despite a strong spring, but got a chance to start when Wright went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
“I know I have to prove myself again and prove that I belong in the five-man rotation,” Loe told the Rangers’ team Web site. “That’s definitely a little pressure, but I welcome it.”
Loe has thrown 2 1-3 scoreless innings of relief in his career against the Indians.
Cleveland will counter with Paul Byrd (1-1, 4.50), who gave up six runs - four earned - and 10 hits in six innings of Saturday’s 6-5 loss at Tampa Bay. The 36-year-old right-hander, who had not allowed any runs this season prior to the defeat, has struggled against the Rangers, going 1-5 with a 7.46 ERA in six career starts against them - his worst ERA versus any AL team.