July 22, 2014

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Rangers 5, Indians 2: Beltre trips Tribe in 11th

CLEVELAND — The Indians teetered on the brink of disaster all night Saturday before Adrian Beltre and the Rangers finally pushed them over.

Beltre’s mammoth three-run home run off reliever Joe Smith in the 11th inning lifted Texas to a 5-2 victory over Cleveland, which was fortunate to hang around that long.

With Indians starter Derek Lowe working in and out of jams for the duration of his six-inning outing, the game threatened to turn lopsided on a number of occasions. But the Indians refused to fold until Beltre forced them to finally succumb on a 1-0 pitch from Smith that traveled an estimated 456-feet to center field.

“We battled them really hard, but unfortunately, we couldn’t push that third run across the plate,” said manager Manny Acta, whose team lost for the first time in four games.

The loss came in front of a 21,307 fans — Cleveland’s first 20,000-plus crowd since Opening Day — many of whom were still in their seats for the disappointing finish.

The Indians nearly lived to play on, with a botched opportunity of a double-play ball opening the door for Beltre to come to the plate.

On for his second inning of work in the 11th, Smith walked the leadoff batter before getting a ground ball from Nelson Cruz. Second baseman Jason Kipnis made the play and flipped to Asdrubal Cabrera at short, but Cabrera could not turn two, with help from Texas’ David Murphy, who slid hard to break up the double play.

Smith induced another ground-ball out before Acta chose to intentionally walk Mitch Moreland and bring the right-handed hitting Beltre to the plate. Beltre entered the at-bat 0-for-5 lifetime against Smith.

“We all know that Smitty is tough against right-handers,” said Acta, who favored Smith pitching to Beltre rather than left-hander Tony Sipp. “I made the decision. Some work, some don’t. I will sleep well because I don’t second-guess myself.

“You can’t give (the Rangers) extra outs, extra opportunities. We didn’t turn that double play and it ended up hurting us.”

Smith, who allowed just his second homer since 2010, did not lament the blown double-play opportunity.

“That would have been nice, but they’re going to turn it 99 out of 100 times,” Smith said. “That’s part of the game. That’s kind of what happens when you get behind people. You can’t do that against that team. (Beltre’s) up there to do damage. You leave a fastball up in the zone and apparently he doesn’t miss it.”

Lowe’s pitches didn’t miss many bats, but he was able to work out of a number of sticky situations, with baserunners aboard in five of his six innings. The right-hander allowed two runs on nine hits.

“You might laugh, but that was pretty much my best game,” said Lowe, who entered the night with a 4-1 record and sparkling 2.27 ERA in six starts. “It’s gratifying when you don’t have your stuff against that kind of lineup and only give up two runs.”

One pitch that was working for Lowe was his sinker. Of his 18 outs, 16 of them came on the ground.

Unfortunately for the Indians, Lowe’s counterpart, Texas left-hander Derek Holland was more than up to the task.

Holland, who was aided by quality defense all night, shut out Cleveland on just three hits over the first seven innings.

The Indians finally got to Holland in the eighth inning, but squandered the opportunity for more against Texas reliever Mike Adams.

Holland allowed consecutive one-out singles to Michael Brantley and Kipnis before Adams entered and allowed Cleveland’s first run on a double from Cabrera.

A passed ball scored Kipnis to tie the game, leaving Cabrera at third base and the Indians with two chances to score the go-ahead run. But Carlos Santana struck out for the second of three times on the night and Travis Hafner grounded to first to end the inning.

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.