American League Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Cleveland
(Sunday, July 8th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 7, Cleveland 6
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Ben Zobrist ripped a go-ahead RBI single as part of a three-run top of the ninth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays rallied to edge the Cleveland Indians, 7-6, in the finale of a four-game set.
Indians closer Chris Perez (0-2) had converted his last 24 save opportunities until the Rays banged him around in the final frame.
Will Rhymes laced a one-out solo shot to right, just his second career home run, and Elliot Johnson singled and scored on Carlos Pena's triple to deep center. Zobrist then registered the Rays' fourth straight hit, a solid single to right that brought home Pena for the 7-6 lead.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was as surprised as anyone that the inning worked out the way it did.
"Rhymes has not hit a home run since 1837 and Carlos has not hit a ball to that spot since he was 10," deadpanned Maddon. "And we win the game. That's how it works sometimes."
Cleveland had runners on the corners with two outs in the home ninth, but Fernando Rodney induced a game-ending groundout from Casey Kotchman to notch his 25th save of the year.
Joel Peralta (1-3) picked up the win despite allowing a run in the eighth.
Kotchman smacked three hits, including a solo homer, to go with three RBI for the Indians, who had won six of their last eight coming in but suffered an unexpected loss with their automatic closer on the mound.
"I made some bad pitches today and they hit 'em," said Perez. "[The streak] is my job. I'm supposed to do that. I don't look at it as anything else."
Cleveland starter Zach McAllister took a no-hitter into the fifth before Jeff Keppinger registered a one-out single. He struck out eight and was charged with four unearned runs on four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings.
The Indians jumped out in front after plating a run in the second inning, two in the third, one in the fourth and another in the fifth.
Kotchman chopped a run-scoring base hit back through the middle for a 1-0 Indians lead in the second.
Johnny Damon belted a triple to center to begin the third and scored when Rays starter James Shields threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt. Jason Kipnis doubled with two outs and scored when Keppinger was unable to backhand Travis Hafner's grounder, giving Cleveland a 3-0 edge.
Kotchman laced a leadoff homer into the seats in right in the fourth and registered an RBI single in the fifth to make it 5-0.
The Rays, though, battled back and pushed across four in the sixth on a pair of two-run doubles by Luke Scott and Desmond Jennings, cutting the deficit to 5-4.
Shin-Soo Choo provided some insurance in the eighth, driving a solo blast over the wall in center to push the margin to 6-4 before the Rays rallied in the ninth.
Shields surrendered five runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits and two walks in seven innings...Tampa Bay was 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position while Cleveland finished 2-for-12.