CLEVELAND: For the second time in three games, the Indians fell behind the Baltimore Orioles, fought their way back to a tie but couldn’t keep up.

Failing to capitalize on key scoring opportunities in the eighth and ninth innings, the Indians fell 6-4 at Progressive Field.

Combined with the Kansas City Royals’ 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox, they also fell into a three-way tie with the Royals and White Sox atop the American League Central Division.

Facing Brad Brach, Jason Kipnis singled to lead off the eighth and Francisco Lindor followed with a double off the wall in right field that missed being a go-ahead home run by just a few feet, putting two runners in scoring position with nobody out. The Orioles went to Darren O’Day, and the Indians couldn’t convert.

O’Day got Mike Napoli to ground out to third base for the first out and then walked Jose Ramirez to load the bases. Lonnie Chisenhall was frozen for strike three in a nine-pitch at-bat and Yan Gomes struck out swinging to end the inning.

Against Orioles closer Zach Britton in the ninth, the Indians again threatened but came up short.

Marlon Byrd and Rajai Davis opened the inning with singles, bringing the potential winning run to the plate. Carlos Santana grounded a ball to third base that was originally called a double play, but Santana beat the throw at first base. Then, a familiar result — Britton (14 saves) struck out back-to-back hitters (Kipnis and Lindor) to end the game, just as O’Day had done in the eighth.

“It gave us a chance,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “That’s what you want. Those are hard games to win. … Somebody will whack one and we’ll have a walk-off if we keep doing stuff like that. I mean, I hope we don’t have to do that, but it’ll happen.”

Prior to that, the Indians (26-22) played catch-up all day.

The Orioles (28-20) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Indians starter Mike Clevinger. Clevinger struggled to find the strike zone, throwing more balls than strikes in the first inning. He walked two and allowed a single to Manny Machado to load the bases. Mark Trumbo then made it all costly with a bases-clearing double off the left-field wall.

In the fourth, Jonathan Schoop doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Flaherty, putting the Orioles up 4-0.

Clevinger lasted only four innings, allowing the four runs on four hits and three walks and struck out four. Clevinger has been hit hard in his last two starts and now owns an 8.79 ERA.

“It finally felt like I was pitching instead of throwing,” Clevinger said. “I wasn’t there mentally, it didn’t feel like, until I got into the second and started finding my groove and it at least clicked for a little bit.”

Just like Friday, the Indians came back to erase that deficit. This time, they did it with power against Orioles starter Chris Tillman (7-1, 2.92). Carlos Santana hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, his ninth of the year, that temporarily tied him with Napoli for the team lead. Three batters later, Napoli took back the lead with a two-run shot, his 10th, to cut the Orioles advantage to 4-3.

In the sixth, the Indians finally caught up when Kipnis drove a solo home run to right field, his seventh of the season.

And, just like Friday, the Orioles got to the Indians bullpen. Facing Jeff Manship (0-1, 3.07 ERA) in the seventh, Hyun Soo Kim hit a line-drive solo home run, the first of his career, to put the Orioles up 5-4.

In the ninth, Nolan Reimold added a solo home run against Tommy Hunter. It was just an insurance run, as the Indians couldn’t convert those two late scoring chances into runs.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ