CLEVELAND (AP) — When Cleveland’s David Huff jogged to the mound to begin the ninth inning, no one budged in the Indians’ bullpen.
It was manager Manny Acta’s message to his young lefty. He was listening.
Huff pitched his first career complete game and Shin-Soo Choo hit a three-run homer after a pair of errors in the eighth Thursday as the Indians beat the Texas Rangers 3-2 to end a five-game losing skid.
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Huff (1-1) allowed a two-run homer to Michael Young in the fourth, but otherwise faced little danger. He allowed four hits, struck out four and retired 10 in a row before Young’s one-out single in the ninth. Only after Young’s single did the Indians’ bullpen get active.
“It was his game,” Acta said. “He was never in trouble, other than the two-run homer. He was in complete control the whole time, so we didn’t see any reason to go to the bullpen. That was a message to him.”
Young’s home run appeared to be the difference in the game until Texas’ defense faltered.
Matt Harrison (0-1) had a shutout through seven innings before Asdrubal Cabrera reached on an error by Young at third base to start the eighth. Grady Sizemore followed with a ground ball to second, but the runners were safe when shortstop Elvis Andrus dropped the throw for his second error of the game.
Choo then hit an 0-1 pitch into the seats in right-center, spoiling what had been a pitcher’s duel between a pair of young left-handers.
“I think this town needs to rally behind this kid,” Acta said. “He’s one of the best players in the American League. He’s a legit five-tool player.”
Choo was the only player in the American League last year to bat .300 with 20 homers and 20 steals. It was his third homer of the season, but first with men on base.
“I try to hit something good, but every time something bad happens,” Choo said. “I just tried to hit the ball hard.”
He was 7 for 10 with two homers and four RBIs in the three games against Texas.
“Choo’s been a thorn in our side all series and he finally got a big one,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “A real big one.”
No one was more excited to see Choo’s homer than Huff, who said he fist pumped so hard he nearly fell off the bench.
Huff won 11 games as a rookie last year, but did it with a 5.61 ERA. He followed up a good spring with a strong first start in Detroit, when he took the loss despite allowing two runs in six innings.
He was perfect the first time through the order on Thursday before Andrus led off the fourth with a single. Young’s homer followed, but Huff immediately settled down.
“I looked up in the middle of the eighth and saw my pitch count was down,” he said. “I knew if I kept making the right pitches and kept attacking those guys, I was going to possibly finish the game.
“I’m going out for every inning until they tell me I’m not.”
Huff needed just 104 pitches, including 71 for strikes.
Harrison was equally impressive. He cruised through the first seven innings, pitching out of jams in the second and fourth as the Indians failed to deliver a clutch hit. Prior to Choo’s homer, Cleveland was 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and 1 for its last 16 dating back to Wednesday’s loss.
“We made a couple of misplays in the eighth inning and Choo finished it off,” Washington said. “It’s part of the game. You just don’t like to see it right there. We don’t feel better that we lost the game, but you definitely have to tip your cap to Harrison.”
NOTES: The Indians are inviting fans attending the Cavaliers-Bulls playoff game on Saturday to buy an Indians ticket for $5 after the Cavs game finishes. Fans need only show their playoff ticket to purchase bleacher or lower reserved seats. The Cavs play at 3 p.m., while the Indians begin at 4. … Indians reliever Aaron Laffey celebrated his 25th birthday. … 1B Russell Branyan’s rehab assignment will move from Triple-A Columbus to Double-A Akron on Friday. Branyan, out with a strained back, was in the Indians’ clubhouse prior to the game. … SS Asdrubal Cabrera’s single in the fifth snapped an 0 for 16 skid. … Rangers OF Nelson Cruz’s hitting streak ended at eight games. … The loss snapped Texas’ seven-game winning streak in Cleveland. … Left-hander C.J. Wilson, who was scratched from Wednesday’s start with food poisoning, will start Friday at New York.