Posted September 20, 2013 on AP on Fox
Zach McAllister lasted five innings and the Cleveland Indians got two gift runs from Houston in a 2-1, rain-shortened victory over the Astros on Friday night to remain near the top of the AL wild-card standings. The game was delayed for 1 hour, 9 minutes before the umpires decided to call it after 6 1-2 innings. The Indians, who entered the night trailing both Tampa Bay and Texas by one-half game for a wild-card spot, scored an unearned run in the second and fourth innings off Brett Oberholtzer (4-4). McAllister (9-9) allowed just one run and got a key double play in the fifth. Bryan Shaw went 1 1-3 innings for his first save. Brandon Laird homered for the inept Astros, who committed three errors, lost their seventh straight and fell to 51-103 - four losses shy of matching the club record set last season. The win improved Cleveland's record to 48-18 against teams currently below .500 - the majors' best mark - and perhaps the biggest reason the Indians have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With a very favorable schedule down the stretch, the Indians were hoping to capitalize on a four-game series against baseball's worst team to stay in the wild-card fray. They needed 11 innings on Thursday night to finally beat Houston 2-1, and then got a major assist from the awful Astros - and Mother Nature - to win again. As they waited out the delay, fans kept tabs on the Tampa Bay-Baltimore and Texas-Kansas City games on Progressive Field's giant scoreboard. McAllister worked in and out of trouble in the fifth, when his slim lead seemed about to vanish. The Astros loaded the bases on a single, walk and single, but the right-hander got leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play to preserve Cleveland's 2-1 lead. McAllister threw four straight balls to Jose Altuve leading off the sixth and was immediately lifted by Indians manager Terry Francona, who wasn't going to wait for the situation to worsen and went to his bullpen. Marc Rzepczynski came on and got two outs - one when catcher Carlos Santana threw out Altuve trying to steal - before Shaw struck out Chris Carter. Shaw worked a 1-2-3 seventh before the game was halted by umpires. With the heavy rain approaching, and the weather forecast looking bleak, the Indians took a 2-1 lead in the fourth thanks to two errors by the Astros on one play. Ryan Raburn hit a one-out single and Asdrubal Cabrera walked. Michael Brantley then hit a grounder to first baseman Carter, who tried to get a forceout at second but threw wildly into left field, allowing Raburn to score. Both runners advanced when a throw to the plate by left fielder Marc Krauss hit a sliding Raburn in the shoulder and the ball skipped to the backstop, a sequence more suited to a Little League field than a major league ballpark. After walking Drew Stubbs to load the bases, Oberholtzer retired Michael Bourn on a grounder to second to keep the Astros within a run. McAllister, who had to endure a lengthy rain delay before his previous start at Chicago, needed just seven pitches to get out of the first inning. He got two quick outs in the second before Laird's fourth homer gave the Astros a 1-0 lead. Laird lined a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats, his second homer in his last six at-bats. But Laird helped give the run back to the Indians in the second, when with a runner at first, he couldn't handle Cabrera's grounder for an error. Brantley singled and Mike Aviles followed with a hard shot to Laird, who stopped it but dropped it, allowing Carlos Santana to score. NOTES: Indians RHP Justin Masterson (oblique) threw a 33-pitch bullpen session, and it's possible the All-Star could pitch if the Indians make the postseason. Masterson, who has been out since Sept. 2, will be re-evaluated Saturday and could throw a simulated game as soon as Monday. ... The Indians have spread around the walk-off wealth. They have had 10 wins in their final at-bat with nine different players getting the game-winning hit. Jason Kipnis is the only player with two walk-off hits. ... Astros 3B Matt Dominguez was out of the lineup after being hit on the left hand by closer Chris Perez on Thursday. Manager Bo Porter said Dominguez's hand was sore, but X-rays were negative. Dominguez is second on the team with 20 homers and 75 RBIs. ''Dominguez is one tough guy,'' Porter said. ''We'll give him a day and let him get treatment and hopefully tomorrow he'll be ready to go.'' ... Aviles snapped an 0-for-23 slid with a double in the sixth.
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