Indians rally in 9th vs. Jays in Lee’s complete game

With a ninth-inning rally, the Cleveland Indians saved ace Cliff Lee from another hard-luck loss.

Victor Martinez hit a two-run double in the ninth and Lee pitched his second straight complete game, leading the Indians to a 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night, snapping a four-game skid.

“It’s always great when you win a game, especially like this and especially for the guy who was on the mound,” Martinez said. “Cliff has been throwing the ball great for us and it’s kind of sad to watch Cliff pitch and not get any run support.”

Cleveland trailed heading into the ninth against Blue Jays closer Scott Downs but took the lead thanks to a rare Toronto error.

Pinch-hitter Ryan Garko reached on an infield single and was replaced by pinch-runner Luis Valbuena. Grady Sizemore bunted to first but Lyle Overbay‘s throw to second sailed into the outfield, putting runners at second and third. The error was Toronto’s major league-low 33rd.

“It’s the right play,” Overbay said. “Maybe if I don’t get a good grip on the ball I’ll think twice but I got a good grip on the ball, he bunted it hard. It was an easy play that wasn’t executed.”

Downs (1-1) walked Asdrubal Cabrera intentionally and Valbuena was forced out at home on Shin-Soo Choo‘s grounder but Martinez followed with a two-run double that landed just inside the left-field foul line.

“I had two strikes, I wasn’t trying to get too big,” Martinez said. “I saw the ball middle-in and just reacted.”

The Indians won for just the fourth time in 12 games. It was Cleveland’s third victory when trailing after the eight inning.

“It was a big win,” Lee said. “We’re staring a loss in the face right there.”

The late rally made a winner of Lee (6-9), who had his third complete game of the season. The only run he allowed came on Scott Rolen‘s seventh-inning homer.

Lee, last season’s AL Cy Young Award winner, had won just once in six starts coming in. He allowed seven hits, walked none and struck out four.

“For whatever reason we’ve had bad luck when I’ve pitched but I feel like I’ve been doing the job,” Lee said.

The Indians came in averaging just 3.48 runs per game in Lee’s 20 starts.

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“He’s had so many tough luck losses this year,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “A lot of good things happened there at the end.”

The blown save, Downs’ second, spoiled a fine start by rookie left-hander Brett Cecil, who struck out a career-high nine over seven innings. Cecil allowed seven hits and walked four.

The Indians had at least two base runners in each of the first four innings but could not break through against Cecil. Cleveland loaded the bases in the fourth but Choo grounded into a double play to end the threat.

That was the first of nine straight outs by Cecil, a run that ended with Choo’s infield single in the seventh. Martinez followed with a double down the line in left but Cecil escaped again when Travis Hafner grounded out.

“You always feel like that’s going to come back and bite you and it nearly did,” Wedge said.

Besides Rolen’s homer, his seventh, Toronto struggled to get anything going against Lee. The Blue Jays got leadoff doubles from Kevin Millar in the third and Hill in the fourth but failed to advance either runner.

Vernon Wells returned to Toronto’s lineup after missing the past three games with an illness. He batted third and went 0 for 4.


The back-to-back complete games are a career-first for Lee. … Hill snapped an 0 for 19 streak with a single in the first. … Wedge said LHP David Huff will start Thursday’s series finale against Toronto LHP Marc Rzepczynski. … Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi has set a July 28 deadline to trade RHP Roy Halladay. Ricciardi said he has “a gut feeling” that Halladay will not be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. … Blue Jays RHP Shaun Marcum (elbow) allowed five runs, one earned, and five hits in three innings in a rehab start at Double-A New Hampshire, his fourth. He walked none and struck out four.