PHOENIX: About a week ago, manager Manny Acta was lamenting that his team had problems stringing hits together, and that virtually the only time the Tribe scored was when someone hit a home run, which is exactly how the Tribe beat the Diamondbacks 5-4 Monday night at Chase Field.
Orlando Cabrera entered the game to play second in the seventh, when Acta executed a double switch to bring Tony Sipp in from the bullpen. When Cabrera came to the plate for the first time in the ninth, he watched ball one from A.J. Putz, then hacked away at the second pitch, sending a fly ball just over the wall in left to snap a 4-4 tie.
“”Manny knows that I hit Putz very well,’’ Cabrera said. “”He knows if it’s late in the game and I get a pitch, I have a pretty good chance. The ball just made it into that little corner; it was kind of scary. But everybody knows the ball flies in here.’’
When it’s 111 degrees outdoors and 80 degrees in the ballpark with the roof closed, fly balls tend to travel just a little farther.
“”That’s to be expected,’’ the manager said. “”Close the roof or open the roof, it doesn’t matter. You have to make pitches here.’’
Cabrera, incidentally, was 5-for-11 against Putz coming into the game.
Cabrera’s game winner was not the only home run news for the Indians. With one out in the first inning, Cord Phelps singled, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit Ian Kennedy’s first pitch for his 13th home run of the season.
It was the first time the Indians held any sort of lead in 21 innings, but they didn’t keep it long.
Mitch Talbot was practically perfect once he gave up the lead. After the Indians scored twice in the first inning, Talbot gave up the lead in the bottom of the first.
His first mistake was walking leadoff batter Kelly Johnson, who immediately scored on Stephen Drew’s triple. Justin Upton followed with a bloop single to right, driving in Drew, and Chris Young singled him to third.
Miguel Montero finally made the first out of the inning, but his ground ball to short drove in Upton from third and gave the Diamondbacks the lead, which the Tribe had held for approximately five minutes.
What went wrong for Talbot? “”Everything,’’ he said. “”In the first inning, my timing, my rhythm, everything was off. I was just not in sync. I don’t know if I had to get used to the mound or needed to slow myself down. But everything seemed to come together each inning after that.’’
Acta was not surprised that Talbot struggled in the first.
“”He’s had some issues early in games in the two years I’ve been here,’’ the manager said. “”But he righted himself and gave us four good innings.
After that, Talbot was virtually flawless. He faced 15 more batters and retired 13. Only two batters reached base, one on second-inning walk to Johnson , the other on an error by Phelps at second. But that runner, Gerardo Parra was wiped out in a double play.
Regardless of Talbot’s one-inning of vulnerability, he kept the Tribe in the game, allowing three hits and two walks in five innings.
Unlike the series against the Giants, the Tribe offense was lively enough to retake the lead it lost. Cabrera began the sixth inning with a double, and Carlos Santana followed with a walk. One out later, Travis Buck singled to right to score Cabrera with the tying run, and Lonnie Chisenhall singled home Santana with the run that put the Indians ahead 4-3.
The RBI was the first of Chisenhall’s career, but he already had gotten his first hit, when he led off the fifth with a double. Yet that inning, like so many in recent days, turned out to be wasted effort.
Lou Marson followed Chisenhall to the plate and blooped a single to right, putting runners on first and third with nobody out. The next batter was Talbot, who was asked to sacrifice Marson to second., which he did.
Acta was not going to risk an out at third or the plate by calling a squeeze play with an inexperienced batter at the plate. Nevertheless, the Tribe had runners on second and third with one out. Not that it mattered, because Michael Brantley struck out , and Phelps flied out to end the inning.
“”There still were a couple of opportunities that we missed,’’ Acta said. “”That would have made it easier on us. But we still won the game. It was a very good win, considering that it almost slipped out of our hands.’’
This time, the Indians held onto the lead until the eighth, when Vinnie Pestano endured one of his rare bad innings, giving up a single to pinch hitter Willy Mo Pena and a triple to Johnson , enabling the Diamondbacks to tie the score 4-4.
“”Vinnie could have crumbled there,’’ Acta said, “”but he’s a tough guy.’’