Indians 3, Yankees 1

The Streak Buster did it again.

Justin Masterson handled New York’s power-packed lineup for 6

2-3 innings and Michael Brantley hit a three-run homer as the

Cleveland Indians snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 3-1 win

over the Yankees on Saturday night.

For the second time this month, Masterson (10-11) ended a long

skid for the Indians, whose stunning second-half collapse has

dropped them from playoff contention. On Aug. 8, Masterson beat

Minnesota and stopped Cleveland’s 11-game slide, one loss shy of

the club record.

”He’s our go-to guy whenever we’re going through tough times,”

Indians manager Manny Acta said. ”He’ll get us out of it. He’s our

guy.”

Brantley homered in the first inning off Hiroki Kuroda (12-9),

and the Indians, who were just 3 1/2 games out of first place on

July 26, won for only the fifth time in 27 games.

Cleveland is 5-18 in August, a month that has felt like a

year.

”It’s been rough,” said closer Chris Perez, who worked the

ninth for his 33rd save. ”I’ve never been through something like

this. I was here in 2010, when we were pretty brutal – but we were

brutal all year. To go from competing to all of a sudden three

weeks later … it was just a free-fall.”

Masterson, roughed up by Oakland in his previous start, allowed

one run and seven hits. He walked two, struck out six and worked

his way out of a major mess in the sixth, when the Yankees loaded

the bases with none out and were a hit away from either tying the

game or taking the lead.

”It happens,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. ”Our guys

had pretty good at-bats. We weren’t able to get that big hit.”

With the victory, the Indians avoided becoming the first team

since the Kansas City Royals in 2006 to have two losing streaks of

at least 10 games in the same season.

Vinnie Pestano replaced Masterson in the seventh, inheriting two

runners with two outs. Pestano walked Robinson Cano to load the

bases before breaking Mark Teixeira’s bat on a popup.

Perez pitched a perfect ninth, striking out Derek Jeter for the

final out.

The colorful closer punctuated the strikeout with a fist pump,

and moments later, the Indians lined up in the infield to exchange

high-fives and celebrate a rare win.

”It’s nice to smile after the game. It’s been a rough month, a

very rough month,” Acta said. ”We’re looking forward to turning

things around and see some of our kids get out there and make some

impact on the games we have left.”

Despite their fifth loss in six road games, the AL East-leading

Yankees remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay, which lost 4-2 to

Oakland.

Kuroda gave up Brantley’s homer in the first, but shut out

Cleveland on just four hits over the next seven innings. It was his

fifth career complete game and first loss when going all the

way.

Masterson coasted through five innings, allowing just three hits

and holding a 3-0 lead.

But the Yankees had him on the ropes in the sixth, when they

loaded the bases with none out on two singles and a walk.

Teixeira’s sacrifice fly to deep center made it 3-1, and Masterson

walked Curtis Granderson to refill the bases. However, Masterson

got Eric Chavez on a liner to third and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo

ran down Russell Martin’s drive at the warning track.

As the ball left his bat, Martin thought it would clear Choo’s

head.

”I did at first, but the ball just died and he was there,”

Martin said. ”I thought I struck it better than that, but

obviously I didn’t.”

Masterson got the first two outs in the seventh, but gave up

consecutive singles to Jeter and Nick Swisher. Acta pulled

Masterson, who got a loud ovation from the crowd of 34,374 – nearly

half of them Yankees fans – as he left the field. Fortunately for

the Indians, this time their bullpen didn’t let them down.

In their previous 22 losses, the Indians had the lead at some

point in nine of them but their relievers blew some games in the

late innings.

NOTES: Jeter has a .366 career average at Progressive Field –

his highest at any ballpark. He went 2 for 5 and leads the majors

with 173 hits. … Girardi expects LHP Andy Pettitte to appear in

another major league game this season. Pettitte has been on the

disabled list with a broken left ankle since June 28. He threw in

the outfield before the game and is scheduled to visit Dr. Chris

Ahmad on Monday in New York. … The Indians are optimistic 3B

Lonnie Chisenhall will return before the season ends. He broke his

right arm when he was hit by a pitch June 29 and underwent surgery.

Acta said Chisenhall will take on-field batting practice

Monday.