Victor Martinez watches his 13th homer.
Jason Stanford never gave up. The left-hander's perserverance paid off Thursday night as he made it back to the majors for the first time in more than three years -- and helped the Indians to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Marlins. The Indians purchased Stanford's contract from Triple-A Buffalo and right-handed reliever Matt Miller was sent back to the Bisons.
Stanford (1-0) allowed six hits and one run over six innings, striking out seven without issuing a walk.
It was his first appearance in the majors since April 15, 2004 -- when he tore a ligament in his elbow that eventually required reconstructive surgery and sidetracked his career.
The Indians got a measure of revenge on the Marlins, who celebrated their 1997 World Series victory over Cleveland in ceremonies before the game.
Victor Martinez (.326) homered, doubled and scored twice and Casey Blake (.282) singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 23 games for Cleveland. Franklin Gutierrez (.194) had two hits and an RBI and Josh Barfield (.257) also had two hits.
Joe Borowski pitched into and then out of trouble in the ninth inning to earn his 19th save in 21 chances.
Stanford didn't allow a runner to reach second base until Josh Willingham led off the seventh with a double. When Jeremy Hermida singled Willingham to third, Indians manager Eric Wedge called on reliever Roberto Hernandez.
Hernandez (5.40 ERA) got Miguel Olivo to hit into a double play, which scored Willingham.
Rafael Betancourt (1.21 ERA) fanned two in a perfect eighth.
Martinez opened the Indians' second inning by hitting his 13th homer.
Cleveland made it 2-0 in the third, helped by an error by ex-Indian Aaron Boone.
Grady Sizemore (.287) beat out an infield single with one out, went to second on Boone's wild throw, and scored on a single by Jason Michaels (.270).
Martinez doubled in the sixth and later scored on a single by Gutierrez to make it 3-0.
Miguel Cabrera opened the Marlins' ninth with a ground-rule double and Borowski then hit Willingham with a pitch.
One out later, Olivo singled to center to score Cabrera, but Borowski came back to get Boone to foul out and then struck out pinch-hitter Alfredo Amezaga to end it.
Stanford went 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA in 12 games for the Bisons this season.
BUFFALO BISONS (AAA)
North Division / International League
35-30 (.538) – 1st place
Jeremy Sowers (0-1, 3.86 ERA) made his first start since being sent down by the Indians earlier this week and allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk over seven innings in a 3-1 loss at Norfolk. Brad Snyder (.262) doubled and scored for the Bisons, who got only six hits. Ben Francisco (.336) went 1-for-4, but Ryan Mulhern (.319) was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Jon Van Every (.250), promoted from Akron on Saturday, went 1-for-3. Van Every earned the promotion by batting .340 (52-for-151) with four homers and 34 RBI in 44 games.
AKRON AEROS (AA)
Southern Division / Eastern League
38-26 (.594) – 1st place
Chuck Lofgren (6-4, 3.66 ERA) and three relievers combined on a nine-hit shutout as the Aeros won at New Hampshire, 4-0. Lofgren allowed four hits and three walks over six innings, striking out four. Mariano Gomez (3.41 ERA) worked one inning, T.J. Burton (1.65 ERA) gave up one hit and two walks in one-third of an inning, but was bailed out by Randy Newsom (3.07 ERA) who got out of that mess and worked 1 2/3 innings for his fourth save. Brian Barton (.317) went 2-for-3 and scored twice, Asdrubal Cabrera (.324) had one hit, run, RBI, walk and strikeout, while Jordan Brown (.323), Ryan Goleski (.248) and Rodney Choy Foo (.288) also drove in runs. Trevor Crowe (.188) continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
KINSTON INDIANS (High-A)
Southern Division / Carolina League
44-22 (.667) – 1st place
The K.Tribe continued to steamroll the competition with an 8-3 win over visiting Lynchburg. On Wednesday night, Kinston secured a berth in the Carolina League playoffs for a record seventh straight season. That broke a consecutive playoff streak tie with the Burlington Bees, who made it six straight years in the Carolina League from 1945-50. Kinston has made the Carolina League playoffs in 16 of 21 years as an Indians affiliate. Since 1987, Kinston has never missed the playoffs in consecutive years. It is the fourth straight year Kinston has wrapped up a playoff spot with a first half title.
On Thursday, Nate Panther (.277) went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth. Max Ramirez (.302) was 1-for-2 with two RBI, while John Drennen (.264) and Josh Rodriguez (.232) each had two hits and one RBI. Wes Hodges (.316) was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Sung-Wei Tseng (1-5, 3.80 ERA), signed as a free agent last summer out of Taiwan, finally got his first pro win. The right-hander gave up seven hits and two runs over six innings. Matt Meyer (4.85 ERA) pitched two scoreless innings and Scott Roehl (4.26 ERA) allowed one run in the ninth.
LAKE COUNTY CAPTAINS (A)
Northern Division / South Atlantic League
OVERALL: 29-37 (.439) - 5th place
Jeanmar Gomez (5-6, 6.51 ERA), the league's pitcher of the week for the first week of June, was hit hard. The right-hander gave up 14 hits and 10 runs over 4 1/3 innings. Paulo Espino (3.65 ERA) fanned three over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Matt McBride (.284) had one hit and an RBI while Adam Davis (.244) had two hits and scored once. Cirilo Cumberbatch (.345) went 2-for-3 for the Captains.