CLEVELAND: Like the good teammate he is, Jack Hannahan gave his lodge brothers in the Indians’ lineup a chance to win the game Wednesday night.
But when the 16th inning arrived and the score was still tied, Hannahan took matters into his own hands. With ther Athletics’ eighth pitcher of the game, Josh Outman, on the mound, Jim Thome lined a one-out single to the opposite field in left. Cord Phelps ran for Thome but had to stop at second on Carlos Santana’s single to center.
That brought up Hannahan, who already had hit two solo home runs to keep the game within reach. Hannahan slapped a single to right, and Phelps rounded third and slid in under the high throw of David DeJesus, and the Tribe eked out a 4-3 win at Progressive Field.
How does a team that sends 24 consecutive batters to the plate and all 24 make outs win? With guys like Hannahan and Frank Herrmann, who pitched the last four innings, allowing no hits or walks and striking out two.
For the record, the Wahoos did not have a base runner after Lou Marson singled with nobody out in the sevsenth until Jason Donald doubled to lead off the 15th.
The victory kept the Indians 51/2 games behind the Tigers, who lead the Central Division, and pushed them ahead of the White Sox, whose loss to the Twins dropped them one-half game behind the Tribe.
Hannahan finished a career month by batting .438 (21-for-48) with three home runs and 12 RBI for August after an aggregate average of .187 in May, June and July.
Ubaldo Jimenez was virtually unhittable his last two innings, striking out five of the six batters he faced through the sixth inning.
Trouble is, it took him awhile to get rolling: four innings to be precise. That might not be acceptable on a regular basis. He gave up three runs over this span, and the maddening part is that the first two times his teammates scored a run, Jimenez immediately gave it back.
Ezequiel Carrera led off the first inning by driving a ball over the head of center fielder Ryan Sweeney then jetting all the way to third on his speedy legs for a triple. Kosuke Fukudome followed with a deep sacrifice fly to left.
Moments later, Josh Willingham led off the second for the A’s with a single and stopped at second on Brandon Allen’s single. Jimenez almost extricated himself from trouble by retiring the next two batters without either runner advancing. But he walked Kurt Suzuki to load the bases, then he walked Scott Sizemore to force in the tying run.
Oh well, it could have been worse. The next batter, Jemile Weeks, hit a sizzling line drive to center but Carrera interrupted its flight with his glove to end the inning.
So the Indians went back to work in their half of the second, as Hannahan led off with his seventh homer of the season. Advantage Tribe but not for long.
The A’s came back in the third to tie the score. Cliff Pennington led off with a double and two outs later, he stole third then scored on Allen’s single.
Back to square one. This time, Jimenez didn’t wait for his team to take the lead; he gave up a one-out homer to Suzuki in the fourth to hand the lead back to Oakland.
That was the last run he allowed, so it wouldn’t be fair to consider it an awful outing. But it wasn’t what General Manager Chris Antonetti was counting on when he traded the club’s two top pitching prospects to Colorado for Jimenez last month.
So far, in six appearances for the Tribe, Jimenez has made three lousy starts (combined ERA 11.77), two good starts (0.60 ERA) plus Wednesday night’s outing that was somewhere in-between.
When it was clear that Jimenez had found his groove, Hannahan felt that it was safe to hit his second home run to tie the score 3-3.
After Jimenez left, Tony Sipp pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a bloop single and striking out three. Chris Perez handled the ninth, allowing a single and striking out one. Joe Smith delivered as scoreless 10th after giving up a hit and a walk. Chad Durbin pitched the next two innings and escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 12th.
In medical news, Michael Brantley underwent successful surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his right hand at the Cleveland Clinic. He will be back next year.
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