CLEVELAND - Jason Kipnis ended a battle of the bullpens in dramatic fashion Friday night.
The Cleveland Indians second baseman belted a three-run home run off Seattle reliever Lucas Luetge with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Cleveland a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
"This is one of the more fun nights I've had on a baseball field," said Kipnis.
"I tried an 0-1 slider, but I just hung it. I knew it was bad right away," said Luetge.
Seattle pitchers had retired 15 batters in a row before Drew Stubbs drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the 10th inning. Stubbs then got picked off first by Luetge, but the speedy Stubbs was able to out-run the throw from first baseman Justin Smoak to second base.
"I picked him off, but he was just quicker than we were," said Luetge.
"He's just so fast," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.
The inning continued when Stubbs advanced to third as speedy Michael Bourn reached on an infield single dribbled just past the pitcher's mound.
"Speed got us there," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge.
Kipnis took a strike from Luetge, then belted the next pitch just over the wall in right field for his seventh home run.
"He threw me a slider on the first pitch and I expected him to throw it again. He did and I got the bat in a good position for that pitch and was able to get it into the air," said Kipnis, who got off to a very slow start this season but has been hitting much better of late, hitting .316 with 13 extra base hits and 19 RBI in his last 14 games.
"In the beginning of the year when he was struggling people were asking me if I was going to move him down in the lineup," said Francona. "You've got to be patient with good players, and now it's paying dividends. He's not just getting hits, he's getting big hits."
Trailing 3-1 after five innings, the Mariners knocked Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez out of the game in the sixth inning. Smoak led off the inning with a single on Jimenez's 98th and final pitch of the game.
Left-hander Rich Hill relieved Jimenez, and Raul Ibanez hit Hill's second pitch over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3. It was Ibanez's fourth home run in the last four games and his seventh of the season.
Jimenez, who was not involved in the decision, pitched five innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He struck out a season-high nine batters and walked one.
"He threw very well. They fouled off a lot pitches and he had a lot of strikeouts. That's why his pitch count was up," said Francona.
Jimenez came into the game having pitched well in recent starts. After going 0-2 with a 10.06 ERA in his first four starts, Jimenez in his three starts prior to Friday was 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA.
Jimenez was dominating in the first two innings, striking out five of the first seven batters he faced.
"There is life on all his pitches," said Francona.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the second inning off Seattle starter Brandon Maurer. Nick Swisher led off with a walk, and he went to third on a double by Carlos Santana.
Swisher scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Giambi, and Santana scored on a wild pitch by Maurer.
The Mariners got a run back in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Kendrys Morales, a towering blast into the second deck in right field, a drive estimated at 429 feet.
The Indians countered with an opposite-field home run to right field by Stubbs to push the Cleveland lead to 3-1 in the fifth.
That's when the bullpens took over. Seattle pitchers did not allow a base runner from the final batter of the fifth inning to the third batter of the 10th inning.
Cleveland relievers combined to hold Seattle scoreless on one hit over the last four innings.
"You saw two good bullpens out there tonight," said Francona. "Both were outstanding."
Notes: Seattle outfielder Michael Morse was a late scratch from the lineup due to an eye irritation. . . Heading into Friday's action, Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen has held opposing batters to a .100 batting average, and right-handers are 0-for-30 against him. . . Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano was activated off the disabled list, where he'd been since May 7 with right elbow tendinitis. . . Reliever Nick Hagadone was optioned