BALTIMORE (AP) – Austin Kearns taught rookie closer Alfredo Simon a harsh lesson: Mistakes get hit hard.
Kearns hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off Simon in an eight-run ninth inning and the Cleveland Indians rallied for an 8-2 victory over Baltimore on Saturday night, ending the Orioles’ season-high three-game winning streak.
“Just like any at-bat, you get a mistake, hopefully you don’t miss it,” said Kearns, who had been 0-for-4 with two strikeouts before his decisive hit.
“The first three at-bats, I just felt like I was all over the place and not comfortable,” he added. “I was trying to calm down and make it as simple as possible.”
With one out and Baltimore ahead 2-0, Simon (0-1) allowed a single by Asdrubal Cabrera and walked Mark Grudzielanek. Shin-Soo Choo followed with an RBI single before Kearns slammed an 0-2 splitter to left for his third homer.
Before his meltdown, Simon had been 5-for-5 in save chances since taking over ninth-inning duties when Mike Gonzalez and Jim Johnson got hurt.
“Simon hung a split and Kearns hit a home run. He’s not perfect,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “He didn’t close it out.”
Simon said he apologized to Orioles starter Brian Matusz, who scattered seven singles over seven shutout innings, for blowing his victory.
“That happens sometimes,” Simon said.
Matusz’s response: “Some days you just don’t have your best stuff. It happens with all of us. It was a tough one today. … We just fell a bit short this time.”
Mike Redmond added a two-run double off Cla Meredith before Trevor Crowe, just called up from the minors, capped the Indians’ biggest inning of the year with a two-run homer.
Cleveland manager Manny Acta welcomed the outburst after his team was limited to one run in its previous 17 innings.
“We had struggled offensively. We had some good games, but most of the time we had been outscored,” Acta said. “It’s just a matter of being patient. To be honest, I was like, ‘Why did you have to make me wait this long?’”
Mitch Talbot (5-2) allowed two runs and five hits. He walked two, struck out three and departed after eight innings figuring he’d cemented his second career complete game in a frustrating loss.
“I’ll take it,” Talbot said. “It would save me a couple of gray hairs if they did it in the fourth or fifth.”
Ty Wigginton homered twice for Baltimore.
Cleveland had been 0-16 when trailing after eight innings.
Coming off his shortest outing of the season – 3 2/3 innings in his third consecutive loss at Minnesota on May 9 – Matusz allowed at least one runner in every inning. The left-hander walked four and struck out six.
Wigginton homered to left off Talbot, his team-high 11th, with one out in the second for a 1-0 Baltimore lead. In the seventh, Wigginton connected again, ripping a 2-0 pitch into the left-field stands for his third multihomer game this season and the 12th of his career.
** Before the game, Cleveland placed INF Andy Marte on the 15-day disabled list with a non-baseball medical issue and recalled Crowe from Triple-A Columbus.