Victor Martinez hit a three-run homer off Los Angeles closer Brian Fuentes in the ninth inning, and the short-handed Cleveland Indians rallied for a stunning 8-6 victory over the Angels on Monday night.
Jhonny Peralta had four hits and followed Martinez’s blast with another ninth-inning homer off Fuentes, whose 30 saves lead the majors. The All-Star left-hander (1-3) gave up four consecutive hits after coming on to preserve a two-run lead in the ninth, blowing a save for the first time in 18 chances.
Martinez was 0 for 4 until his improbable shot to left. Reggie Willits appeared to have a chance to catch it, but the outfielder accidentally backed into the fence and couldn’t make a proper jump at the ball.
Peralta drove in three runs as Cleveland pounded out 20 hits and improved to 6-1 on its nine-game road trip – and the Indians did it without several regular components.
Cleveland played without manager Eric Wedge and reliever Winston Abreu after both were suspended for Abreu’s plunking of Seattle’s Jack Hannahan last weekend. The Indians then traded first baseman Ryan Garko to San Francisco shortly before game time, and Grady Sizemore sat out while feeling ill.
Bench coach Jeff Datz managed the Indians while Wedge watched the game on television in his office.
Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli hit consecutive homers in the second inning for the Angels, who lost back-to-back games for just the second time in July following an eight-game winning streak. Morales hit two homers and Rivera drove in two runs in his return from an eight-game injury absence, but the Angels‘ shaky pitching staff failed them again.
The loss dropped Los Angeles’ lead over Texas in the AL West standings to 2 1/2 games.
Jose Veras (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Carl Pavano for the Indians. Kerry Wood gave up a leadoff double to Gary Matthews Jr. in the ninth, but completed his 14th save in 18 chances.
Starter Joe Saunders had yet another rough outing for the suddenly pitching-poor Angels, allowing a season high-tying 10 hits and four runs while barely surviving five innings. The left-hander has allowed at least four runs in six consecutive starts, and hasn’t won in July.
Saunders’ latest poor start on the heels of Ervin Santana‘s terrible outing Sunday against Minnesota could give added impetus to the Angels‘ search for a starter before the trade deadline.
Carl Pavano wasn’t much better for the Indians, yielding 10 hits and six runs – including four solo homers – in six innings.
Pavano is the first Indians pitcher to allow three consecutive homers since Dave Burba did it June 29, 2001, against Kansas City. … Cleveland CF Ben Francisco made a spectacular diving catch to end the sixth inning, robbing Willits of an extra-base hit. … The Indians will recall Andy Marte from Triple-A Columbus before Tuesday’s game.