Asdrubal Cabrera watches his game-winning hit.
It wasn't pretty getting there, but the Indians somehow rediscovered their late-inning magic after making a one-run lead go poof Thursday night. Asdrubal Cabrera singled home the winning run with two outs in the 11th inning for a 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners. The Tribe should have put it away in regulation, then was fortunate to come back twice -- to tie and then eventually rally to win.
Cabrera snapped an 0-for-14 slump with his two-out, bases-loaded single to center to end a game in which the momentum swung wildly back and forth over the final three innings.
Earlier, Travis Hafner broke his 0-for-13 slump and Ryan Garko ended his 0-for-25 slide.
Cleveland clung to a 1-0 lead -- courtesy of Hafner's fourth-inning RBI double -- when closer Rafael Betancourt yielded a leadoff single in the ninth to Ichiro Suzuki, his third hit of the game. One out later, Betancourt crossed up Victor Martinez with a high fastball that went off the catcher's glove and to the backstop. The wild pitch sent Suzuki to second. Betancourt didn't pay attention to the speedy all-star, who then stole third -- and scored when third baseman Casey Blake flubbed Martinez's throw.
When ex-Indian Richie Sexson hit Masa Kobayashi's first pitch over the wall in left for his 300th career homer to open the 10th to make it 2-1, it looked as if Cleveland had totally wasted a fine pitching performance by starter Paul Byrd.
"It would have been a lot more frustrating if we had lost," Byrd said. "This is one we can build off. Our trademark is playing with a lot of heart, battling back to win. That's what we did."
Byrd gave up four hits and one walk over 7 2/3 innings, striking out four. He walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth, then got two outs before manager Eric Wedge summoned lefty Rafael Perez to face Suzuki, who already had two hits off Byrd.
With a 1-2 count, pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist took the bat out of the .331 career hitter by breaking for second and being thrown out by Martinez.
Seattle starter Miguel Batista held the Indians hitless until Martinez doubled with one out in the fourth. With two outs, Hafner's double into the right-field corner gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead.
Hafner, dropped to the sixth spot in the lineup to start a game for the first time since Sept. 18, 2004, entered the game batting only .137 (7-for-51) in his last 14 games.
Garko followed with a single that broke his hitless streak, but Hafner was thrown out at the plate by Suzuki. It was the second game in a row that third-base coach Joel Skinner waved a runner into an out against Suzuki, known as one of the best throwing outfielders in the game.
After Sexson put Seattle ahead, the Indians tied it off Mariners closer J.J. Putz. Garko singled and was replaced by pinch-runner Jamey Carroll, who took second on a single by Franklin Gutierrez. Cabrera walked to load the bases and Grady Sizemore walked to force home Carroll to make it 2-2. Blake then struck out for the fourth time and David Dellucci fanned for the third time.
Kobayashi yielded a pair of one-out singles in the top of the 11th, but got Adrian Beltre to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Jhonny Peralta started the winning rally with a one-out walk off right-hander Mark Lowe. Hafner doubled Peralta to third and Carroll was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Sean Green came on and struck out Gutierrez on three pitches. But Cabrera drove an 0-1 fastball to center and was mobbed by happy teammates.
"It was like pulling teeth," said Wedge, who was happy to see his team continue to battle, but more upset at the way they had blown the lead and failed to capitalize on other opportunities. "If we had done a better job earlier, we'd have never been in that situation."